“Cetaceans” is the collective name for whales, dolphins and porpoise. Minke Whale are the most frequently seen whale throughout the Hebrides. Although usually seen in the distance they will sometimes swim very close beside the boat, rolling on their side, to take in a better view (photo below). Common Dolphin are often seen in large groups (up to 1000 animals) and frequently bow ride vessels.
Bottle-nosed Dolphins are being seen more regularly and we usually encounter the same group each time we travel through the Sound of Barra.
The Harbour Porpoise is a very small and shy mammal. Groups are often large and they can be seen fleetingly all around.
Risso’s Dolphins are sometimes seen around the Western Isles in small groups. Shy dolphins, close encounters are particularly rewarding. Striped Dolphin, White-beaked Dolphin and White-sided Dolphin are more commonly seen further offshore, on our longer trips to the Outer Hebrides and St Kilda.
Orca (killer whale) are seen infrequently but on a regular basis. One encounter saw three orca bow riding Chalice for four hours. An unforgettable experience!
A positive sighting of a Sei Whale was made from Chalice some years ago. We had great encounters with Humpback Whales off Iceland in 2005 and 2006 and unconfirmed sightings have been made in the Hebrides. US Navy sonar records indicate that Blue Whale, Fin Whale and Sei Whale have, at least in the past, been reasonably frequent visitors to the waters around St Kilda. Scroll down to see more photos of whales and dolphins, all taken from our boats.
DID YOU KNOW?
The first signs of habitation on Hirta (the largest island in the St Kilda archipelago and the only one you can really land on) are thought to have occurred c. 600 AD.