Thursday, 1 May 2014

Lunging into the new season...

On Tuesday I had yet another memorable nature spectacle from the deck of Sula Beag...

We got underway from Tobermory at 0930 and after encountering a number of harbour porpoise and a white-tailed eagle on our way out to open seas we got onto our first minke whale of the season showing typical early season behaviour. After observing the animal for 20 minutes it performed a head lunge, where the animal appears to breach but does not fully emerge from the water! Shortly after we tracked a large amount of feeding shearwaters and ended up sitting with the engines off surrounded by at least 5 minke whales in close proximity! behaviour included lunge feeding, side-lunge feeding and another head lunge! It was an explosive feeding frenzy and it was like we were in a TV nature documentary receiving the live show!
Minutes afterwards we got onto a group of 25-30 common dolphins which were riding our bow and staying with us even when we were stationary! We had lunch surrounded by a healthy number of common and grey seals and admired small shoals of sandeels in the shallows. Other species viewed today were gannets, great skuas, puffins, great northern divers, kittiwakes, guillemots and razorbills. 

This was the first time I had seen this minke whale behaviour in five seasons covering these waters. I heard all about the 'glory days' in the last few years but so lucky to experience the real thing. It was a key sign of food abundance at the surface and along with recording sandeel shoals and a highly rich plankton sample it was promising early season data collection. A mild winter and a warm settled spring could well be the reason for this and lets hope it is a sign of things to come...

One of the best moments with wildlife that I will have...Nature is a wonderful thing...

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