Basking Shark's Galore On This Years Staffa Trip

 Guests take in the view upon arrival 

Guests take in the view upon arrival 

Yesterday, in partnership with Mull and Iona Ranger Service and Turus Mara, HWDT’s Engagement Team took guests on a special trip to the iconic Isle of Staffa, home of Fingal’s Cave and a colony of puffins. We had an amazing excursion recording a grand total of 19 sightings and an incredible 29 animals. A whopping 50% of these sightings were basking sharks, with at least eight different individuals in the area. 

 Sightings recorded onboard Island Lass viewed on HWDT's free smartphone app Whale Track 

Sightings recorded onboard Island Lass viewed on HWDT's free smartphone app Whale Track 

Met by beautiful calm seas and sunshine we set out on Island Lass, one of Turus Mara’s vessels. On the way out to Staffa we were greeted by five basking sharks, a minke whale and a couple of small group of harbour porpoises, much to the delight and awe of all on board the boat. However, this was only the start...

 Our first sighting of the day, the destinctive fin of a basking shark lurking beneath the surface 

Our first sighting of the day, the destinctive fin of a basking shark lurking beneath the surface 

Upon arriving on Staffa and making the climb, we set up our big eye binoculars and to our delight got quick results; a pair of harbour porpoises spotted just off the rocks! This was followed swiftly by three basking sharks in the distance who, to our luck, swam closer to the island, slicing trails in their wake allowing us to get a better look at them. As well as this two more sharks were spotted on the other side of the island swimming right by our guests who were eating dinner with the puffins. One shark had a dorsal fin which was so big that it flopped over, due its sheer size. The conditions were perfect for spotting with mirror calm seas and clear skies, allowing us to track the same animals as they covered vast distances, likely the leading reason for our success. 

 Breathtaking views from our watch point on the iconic rock

Breathtaking views from our watch point on the iconic rock

With our time up on Staffa, we packed up and returned to the boat for the cruise home and had even more sightings... probably those same animals we had been tracking from our island lookout! Animals of note included curious seals and more basking sharks.  The sighting of the trip though, has to be the penultimate encounter with a huge basking shark exploding from the water under a radiant sunset. An incredible view for all of those who had the pleasure of experiencing it. This was one of those breath taking moments you have to see to believe.

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Thank you to Turus Mara and Mull and Iona Ranger Service for making the trip possible, and a big thanks to all the folk who came along and watched with us on this trip of a lifetime. We hope you all had as much fun as we did!

 

Owen Wild, Work Experience Student