Friday 12 July 2013

Seals and Cetaceans: Seals at Dunvegan, Skye

I mentioned a few days ago that I would return to photos from our recent Scottish holiday. We have a particular love of the Isle of Skye, also known as Eilean a' Cheo - the Misty Isle. 

A particular treat is to take the small seal boat from Dunvegan Castle out on the glassy waters of Loch Dunvegan to see the seals on the skerries.  

On this occasion we shared the boat with another couple and the skipper. It was a very warm humid day with grey skies. It was the only day of our holiday when I felt that we were actually 'troubled' by midges, but once we out on the water, there was hardly an insect to be seen. The skippers are very experienced and know the moods of the sea-loch like the back of their hand. They are also very familiar with the seals, knowing just how close to go without causing disturbance or unrest of any kind.

The seals in this colony love to laze around on the kelp-strewn rock. They know that the skippers will only go 'so close'. Most of the time they look so sleek and docile that it is hard to believe that they could inflict serious injury if frightened. I get a huge thrill from being 'nose to whisker' with these mammals, and mid-summer proved a particularly rewarding time for our visit as the cow-seals were pupping. It surprised me that the skipper had a particular date in mind, saying that most pupping seals in this colony would produce their offspring on the same given day. 

This magnificent creature was particularly unfazed by our presence. I love the pink tongue!

You can appreciate the excellent view we had from our clinker-built craft.
I love the way that the seal on the left has draped itself over the kelp ... and I also like the folded flippers of the creature behind!

I suspect this seal may have been waiting to give birth. What beautiful folds of skin around the neck! 

This younger seal (one of last year's pups, perhaps) seemed to have a more quizzical look. It can be very hard not to describe these wild animals in anthropomorphic terms ... but at the same time, I am well aware that these mammals are dangerous and quite capable of inflicting serious injury. 

Minutes pass so quickly out on the loch, and it was soon time to return to the castle gardens ...

... but not before we took a moment (please excuse the string of adjectives!) to admire this utterly irresistible shiny black day-old pup!


eileeninmd said...

Very cool sighting of the seals! Love the cute pup! Wonderful photos!

Crafty Green Poet said...

what gorgeous photos, Caroline! I love seals, so much character!

Em Parkinson said...

Absolutely gorgeous Caroline. My son's special toy is a seal called Sizzie. He's had him since he was a year old from the seal sanctuary in Cornwall. I have a bit of a soft spot for them as a result.

Ercotravels said...

wow, wonderful post about seals. the seals are looking cute and cool. Nice post with beautiful photograph.

Mary said... the seals! How neat to see the cute little pup.