Other Marine Animals
Other than cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoise) the marine animals most commonly seen are Basking Shark, Seals, Otters and Ocean Sunfish.
After being hunted to virtual extinction Basking Shark are now being seen in large numbers – in 2006 the Hebrides was home to the greatest number of basking sharks in the whole of the UK. Our encounters with these massive but benign creatures have made us appreciate what easy prey they were as they are readily observed at close range…if you can spot them on the surface!
Common Seals and Grey Seals are seen throughout the Hebrides, from Oban Bay to St Kilda with pups visible in June and September. Grey seals are very “dog like” in appearance and you’ll probably spot one or two hopefuls hanging about in Oban Bay before we even untie the boat. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see stills from a video of a cheeky seal approaching a diver’s video camera, giving it a quick kiss then swimming off to plant a sneaky kiss on the top of his surprised buddy’s head!
Otters are notoriously difficult to spot which makes people think they are rare. This is not so. Otters are everywhere but they are difficult to see, not least because they are so well camouflaged against rocks and seaweed. Dedicated otter spotters get up early and are vigilant at both dawn and dusk – and are frequently rewarded with sightings of otters playing or feeding.
We are seeing increasing numbers of Ocean Sunfish – the world’s heaviest bony fish (average weight 1000kg) – a couple of sightings per year. Native to tropical waters the extremely strange looking creatures appear to be moving north as ocean temperatures gradually rise.
DID YOU KNOW?
Atlantic puffins have penguin-like colouring but they sport a colourful beak that has led some to dub them the "sea parrot". The beak fades to a drab grey during the winter and blooms with colour again in the spring.