Saturday, 2 March 2013

Porpoises on the Clyde

I read somewhere once that owning a RIB was basically the same as owning a large fibreglass hole in the ocean into which you throw money. I will add time to that as well, since our boat is pretty old and therefore in constant need of some sort of repair and because I know nothing about RIB maintenance that I haven't learned through tortuous trial-and-error. Some days, owning a RIB is an utter pain in the ass.

But then you get days like today and it all feels worthwhile.

Trail Island in the Clyde.

Today I took four experienced divers out onto the Clyde to explore around Trail Island by Little Cumbrae since it's not a site we've dived much before with the University club even though it's virtually on our doorstep. Unfortunately, issues with a dodgy neck kept me out of the water myself, but whatever - I still got to take my RIB out for a spin, so who cares!

I couldn't really ask for much more out of a Saturday afternoon! 

Anyway, I dropped the guys in for a thoroughly relaxed and uneventful dive along the cliff-face and then left them to it while I just enjoyed being back at sea (and doing a spot of high-speed driving practice because frankly if you've got a boat to yourself with a 90HP engine on the back it would be rude not to!). A short 45 minutes later, the divers came back happy but cold and with plenty of decent site information we can add to our list for the Uni club so we decided to call it a day and head back home for some lunch. And that's when it all got rather exciting.

Just as we were reached the channel between the two Cumbraes, I spotted a couple of porpoise near where we'd seen some earlier in the day and slowed down to approach them. Porpoise are usually shy and solitary creatures so I wasn't holding out much hope of getting very close, but I slowly trundled us towards the area they seemed to be congregating in anyway and stopped the boat.


Within a couple of minutes it was obvious that we hadn't just found a couple of porpoise, and even more obvious that we must have stumbled into a feeding spot because we were suddenly surrounded by about 20 of them, all swimming actively and (strangely enough for porpoise) happily circling the boat! I've worked as a wildlife guide before in one of the UK's porpoise hotspots, but I've never seen as many as there were today and never so close! By the time I remembered I'd brought my camera, they'd been with us for a good 10-15 minutes and were showing no signs of being disturbed by our presence which was just awesome. Photography was virtually impossible because the glare on water meant you couldn't see them below the surface to track when they'd appear, but I did manage to get this one shot. It doesn't do the event any justice at all, but at least you can see how close they were to us!

I reckon if every Saturday could be like this, I'd would never have anything to complain about :)