Sunday, 9 June 2013

Shark charter, 27th - 31st May

Shark charter week and we were on board Bold Ranger for the 5 days of the excursion with moderate winds forecast easing off towards the end of the week. A lot of sunshine hours predicted and little rain which was positive. The main focus was diving and filming Basking sharks but we would cover a number of species throughout the week.

Fantastic shot by Alan of an interacting Grey Seal and Ramon...

We arrived at Coll and focussed on the local Seal colonies and the divers got in with some Atlantic Grey Seals which were being very sociable as the guys got some great shots of the mammals. I dropped them off on one of the near by islets to do some sunset shots and we anchored for the night to an exposed south east wind force 4-5 so it was a roly nights sleep! I didn't get my 8 hours but managed to get some shut eye.

Inquisitive Grey...

The Cairns...

Coldplay wrote a song about this spot last year...

Sea Pink


Day two and we headed down the west side of Coll keeping a good look out for Baskers to no avail. We covered a couple of traditional sites before heading east to Lunga where we anchored up and had a few hours shore time with the isle to our self as all the other operators had gone home. A lot of Puffins still forming rafts out at sea and very small numbers of Razorbills at present. Thick carpets of Bluebells seen and skull pellets found near a black-backed gull nest site consisting of Puffins, Razorbills and Rabbits. We took the pellets with us as it would be good to show passengers on SLS trips. Got wet a few times transporting people on the tender as there was a big surge on the rocky shore. We anchored for the night off the east side of Lunga.

Razorbill with sunrise at Lunga...

West side of Lunga...force 5-6 seas

Solid Bluebell carpets on Lunga

Bluebells and Primroses

Day three and I was up at 4am to take the group back onto Lunga for sunrise photography. A Razorbill came and associated with me while I was sat on the flying bridge and was calling and looking at me for about five minutes. An amazing golden light producing a lovely seascape The island landings on the tender were more pleasant because of the calming sea state. 

Bold Ranger in Loch Na Keal

We pulled the anchor up and headed east into Loch Na Keal to have a look for Otters. We got a dog straight away in the Ulva channel and headed further down the head of the loch admiring the stunning landscapes around us. Afterwards we headed out west to open grounds to look for sharks. 
On the evening session we headed out south west 4 miles off shore doing a big circuit of the open sea with the famous Skerryvore lighthouse in view. After a good couple of hours of searching the skipper spotted a Basker off the bow!! First of 2013! The skipper was jumping with joy! We got a few shots from the boat but it was too rough to send the divers in. On the way back to Tiree we got a group of 2-3 Bottlenose Dolphins bow riding to cap off a great day.

Basking Shark seen south west of Tiree.. filming with polecam

Gaping mouth of the Basker...

We had a relaxing morning before heading out around Tiree waters in search of the Sharks again. A four hour shift scanning the bright sparkly choppy seas and no success so we headed north towards Gunna. On route the skipper again picked out a Shark and as is normally the case when you see one then more are in the vicinity as we had a school of 10-15! Force 5 seas made it hard for the divers but they got in and got some record shots of the fish. We also watched a Great Skua take down a Gannet and also a Fulmar sit next to both divers being very inquisitive. 

Surface feeding shark taken off my iphone

Basking Shark taken by Ramon

Friendly Fulmar...


Day five and we headed north towards the Cairns of Coll to concentrate on the Seals again. 
They were not been as sociable today as we moved on back home to the east. Common Dolphins were reported one cable to the north but we carried on and checked out a Golden Eagle eyrie which is 6-7 foot in depth....stunning. Landed back at Tob on Friday evening after a great 5 days experience for me, thanks to the skipper and everyone else on board.