On July 3rd we got contacted by Gordon MacLean who with this skippers and crew (Chris and Jodie) had an incredible sighting with a very playful pod of Risso’s dolphins just North of the Shiant Isles in the Outer Hebrides. Gordon, Chris and Jodie work for Stornoway Seafari (https://www.stornowayseafari.com/) which offers private, wildlife and commercial sea charters on an xs 850 rib boat and which is based in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. The story you are about to read was told us by Chris who took all the photos which are shown in this article!
My name is Chris Murray and I am a recently retired Coastguard Helicopter Winchman. I have been living here in Stornoway since 1984 but I am originally from Dornoch. I have recently started working as a Skipper with Gordy Maclean @ Stornoway Seafari operating out of Stornoway in the Western Isles of Scotland. Among the cetacean species I have seen there are common minke whales, short-beaked common dolphins, orca and Risso’s dolphins.
On July 3rd, we saw Risso’s dolphins at around 15.00. It was difficult to determine how many they were as they were spread over a very large area but I would estimate they were around 30 and there were calves amongst them!!
Initially I spotted them on my way to the Shiant Isles with a load of passengers and they were moving north. I heard later that the dolphins were seen in East Loch Tarbert in Harris.
On our way back to Stornoway we came across them once again and assuming it was the same pod at 17.30 about a mile further North sometimes breaching and sometimes whacking their tails on the water. We kept our distance from them and turned the engine off and took some pics with a 150-600 lens and that’s how they look so near.
What an incredible encounter it was!