I had the recent privilege of spending another week in the Scottish Highlands, one of my favourite places on the planet. This time, in total contrast to my trip back in May, we had a week of heavy rain and very high winds. In fact the weather was so bad we decided to curtail the trip two days early! Obviously I have vowed to go back again next year… at least twice
Part of this trip was spent on the island of Coll, to the north of Mull on the western coast. Coll is the operational base of Basking Shark Scotland, a company dedicated to providing managed close encounters with these stunning creatures as well as furthering research into the species, their habitat and lifestyles.
Due to the inclement weather we only had one proper day out looking for sharks, and the rough condition were not ideal for spotting their large dorsal fin breaking the surface as they feed on the huge concentrations of plankton. However, due to diligent lookouts and superb seamanship from the skipper and guide, we were all treated to multiple ‘passes’ by a number of sharks, and even managed to grab a few photos despite the rough seas and overcast/raining conditions.
The day was spent on a large, spacious and comfortable RIB that also had a cover to get us out of the wind & rain (it would also have acted as a sun-shade too had we actually had the correct weather for August!). We took it turns to quietly enter the water up-stream of a shark, and keeping close to our guide we’d wait for the fish to pass us by, often-times we were dropped right in the middle of a dense patch of plankton so the shark would circle us, large mouth totally a-gape, for a few minutes before heading off to find another area to feed in.
I can-not recommend a trip out to Coll to see the basking sharks highly enough. It takes some getting to, but the trip itself takes you through stunning mountainous scenery and then the ferry from Oban takes you past amazing coastal views.
Despite the weather, I’ll be back!