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Wildlife Watching with Fyne Sea Tours

Did you know that….

A bottle nosed dolphin has the ability to recognise itself in a mirror

A harbour porpoise can navigate the seas in search of food in the dark

A gannet, our largest seabird, can spot a fish under water from up to 150 feet in the air

Rather impressive facts, eh?

On board Fyne Explorer, let us take you on a wildlife sea safari, from the comfort of your lounge, (it’s the best we can do at the moment whilst in lockdown) to encounter the wonders and delights of some of Scotland’s rather fascinating wildlife.

Grab your binoculars and get comfy in your armchairs!

Seal of Approval

As we advance towards a small group of islands sitting north of Portavadie off the eastern shoreline of Loch Fyne, a seal, lazing on the rocks, has smelt and heard us due to the direction of the wind. We know this because it raises its light grey shiny head, in a ‘meerkat’ pose as it spots us. Staring at us intensely is a sign for us to slow our speed, keep quiet and keep our distance. What we are trying to avoid is a ‘tripwire’ moment whereby the meerkat’s sudden movement alerts the herd of seals nearby making them feel threatened, which can cause a stampede into the water.

Some of the seals we encounter on our Scottish boat tours on Loch Fyne
Seals on Loch Fyne

With a calm, glassy sea state we cut the engine and observe. We know this is a common seal due to its cat/puppy like face, unlike a grey seal which has a bulbous roman nose.

We must digress at this point to stress that Crystal wants it to be common knowledge that she is still more gorgeous than these ‘sea spaniels.’ How could we possibly disagree?

After a few minutes and not wanting to out stay our welcome we turn on the engine and retreat away slowly, knowing that we have respectfully averted any injuries from a mass bolt of these carnivorous marine cuties into the sea.

A Boat Trip with a ‘Porpoise’

Spotting porpoises on Loch Fyne on our Argyll boat tours
Porpoises off the bow

Continuing on our journey, our eyes are drawn to movement in the flat water on Fyne Explorer’s port side, near the shore. The disturbance on the surface looks like a tyre rolling along with the tide but it is actually a Harbour Porpoise. On a mission, this solitary sighting is probably in search of a meal of herring, sardines, squid and crustaceans to satisfy its insatiable appetite. As it has a high metabolic rate, this smallest of the cetaceans will feed for 80-90% of its time. In terms of feeding habits, Crystal has some serious competition here.

Our Springer Spaniel Crystal on the shore of Loch Fyne at Strachur, part of the crew on Fyne Explorer
Crystal - Cute and hungry Reluctant Sea Dog

With their behaviour known to be affected by noise, such as the hum of a boat engine and in order not to disturb its quest to hunt for food, we keep a safe distance. As we steer a course away the triangular fin diminishes as it dips in and out of the water. Enjoy your succulent sardines and scrumptious squid, little one.

Riding the Bow of Fyne Explorer

Heading west across the loch in the direction of the Kintyre Peninsula we can observe a display of diving gannets. Endeavouring to find out more we motor a little nearer and then cut the engine. The frenzied behaviour of our largest seabird with its two metre wingspan is a spectacle not to be missed as they fly high and circle before dramatically plummeting into the sea to catch unsuspecting fish.

We have a hunch that there is more wildlife activity to come as the commotion in the water heightens. Before we have time to poise with our phones and cameras at the ready, we find ourselves accidentally in the path of a pod of bottle nosed dolphins. With the focus of attention on a shoal of mackerel, these marine mammals with their tapered, streamlined bodies acrobatically put on a display of flips and leaps for us.

Arching their backs and moving their flukes vertically up and down these creatures generate momentum to propel them forwards. Unlike fish and sharks that move from left to right to produce propulsion.

We watch in awe at these graceful animals cutting through the water, heading up the loch in their pursuit of food. What a spectacle to have witnessed….nature in action!

Become Wiser on Fyne Explorer

Whilst on the accredited WiSE (Wildlife Safe) Scheme recently, run by the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust we developed our skills not only on identifying wildlife and how to interact with them but also how to behave in a respectful manner in their environment. Unfortunately, we missed out on a trip to the picturesque town of Tobermory on Mull to attend this course and had to complete it via two Zoom meetings in our kitchen. To try and savour the moment we had to pretend we were there.

Gaining our WISE accredited wildlife safe operator accreditation
Our WISE Accreditation

Since completing this informative and fact filled course, both Martin and myself are now confident in passing this knowledge on to you, whilst on board.

How would you know the difference between a common seal and a grey seal?

What would you do if you found a dead dolphin on the shoreline?

If you were lucky to witness a basking shark, how would you report this amazing filter feeder sighting, and who to?

Best Practice on Loch Fyne

Come on board to not only experience the awesome wildlife but learn about these animals in their own environment. All our wildlife and their ecosystems which share our planet just like us humans, are vulnerable and will remain so whilst our ocean temperatures continue to increase and water levels continue to rise. I can feel another blog coming on.

In order to help preserve these creatures however we can, we need to follow the Scottish Marine Wildlife Watching Code and the Guide to Best Practice for Watching Marine Wildlife.

So, let’s turn up the volume on nature, learn how we can all play our part in protecting our wildlife and most importantly, revere them.

Contact us to book your tour this summer with Fyne Sea Tours……’s even better than the armchair experience!

Before you go…

More Fun Wildlife Facts with Fyne Sea Tours

Did you also know that….

Scotland homes 40% of the world’s population of gannets, making them internationally important birds here

Porpoises closest living land relative is the hippopotamus

Another name for a group of seals is called a ‘bob’


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