Coast to coast and sightings aplenty!
It’s been a busy few weeks travelling coast to coast from the industrial east to the wild west, but luckily the weather was (mostly) on my side. Also lucky was a bit of spare time between meetings, markets, interviews and office work to appreciate our coast and all it has to offer including stunning scenery and of course, some of the world’s finest seafood!
SEA partner Whale and Dolphin Conservation’s (WDC) Shore Watch site at St Cyrus National Nature Reserve (www.wdcs.org/national_regions/scotland/shorewatch); Peterhead fish market; Berneray, Western Isles.
Dinner – creel caught lobster and prawns from the west coast.
As always I spent much of my time on harbours meeting and interviewing fishermen, and while each area and it’s fishermen are unique, all have fascinating tales of incredible experiences they’ve shared with some of our bigger marine life. Here are just a few examples of the enviable encounters creel fishermen have had recently:
Orca bow-riding off Peterhead; A nosy minke whale off the NE coast, which apparently made over a dozen passes under the boat.
Two very curious humpback whales taking a closer look at a creel boat working around the Shetland Isles. Taken using a drone, these images really highlight the size of these animals!
While speaking about his close encounters with humpback and minke whales over the years, one fisherman I met last week told me how he reports all of his cetacean sightings to SEA partner the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT, www.hwdt.org) through their Whale Track app. He has been at sea for over 40 years working on a mixture of dredge, trawl and creel boats and noted an increase in the number and variety of animals he sees now. He commented that “Fishing is a dangerous job, it’s mentally and physically challenging and at times pretty thankless and frustrating. But when you’re the only boat out there and you see something like this [a whale], well %*#! some people will never see a whale in their whole life and we get to experience it all the time. Its a good reminder of how lucky we are to live and work where we do, and always makes the day a little brighter”.
If you are a creel fisherman and would like to learn more about the SEA project or get involved in this, or if you ever come across an animal entangled in your gear, please contact the SEA project coordinator Ellie MacLennan on 01463 246048, 07393 798153 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Any information you choose to share will be treated positively, sensitively and confidentially.