Whale watching

Whale Watching Cruises

& other wildlife

with the specialists:

On these trips we make every effort to find and  watch various cetacean species as well as basking sharks when they are in the area.  But we also take the time to enjoy the other wildlife around us and spend time ashore, walking and exploring the islands.

Although there are places such as the Moray Firth in Scotland, where you can see dolphins close up, many people believe that the only way to get close to whales is to travel abroad, perhaps to California, even the Arctic or Antarctic.

This is not the case and in fact it is possible to have the most exciting and impressive encounters here on the West Coast of Scotland.

Minke approaches Guideliner to meet the guests!

Minke whales are common and we also see, but less frequently; orcas, pilot whales, bottle nosed whales, sei whales and even occasionally sperm whales to the west of St Kilda. Among the other cetaceans, we always see harbour porpoise, which are very common, but also several species of dolphin; bottle nosed, common, Atlantic white- sided, risso’s, and white-beaked.

However, if you are a keen whale watcher and that is what you want to concentrate on, then you really have three choices. Firstly you can watch from a headland, such as Ardnamurchan, which can work sometimes but is very inefficient especially if you only have a few days to spare. Secondly, you can join one of the whale watching trips that go out daily from such places as Tobermory and Gareloch. These are excellent and sometimes offer very good sighting opportunities, although the whales to be found around Mull are reducing in numbers rather drastically.

The third option is to join one of the specialist 6 day live – aboard trips run by Guideliner Hebridean Wildlife Cruises. This means you can devote your time to finding and seeing the cetaceans, without being restricted by distance or by time. On these trips, by using information gained by keeping in touch with other boats over the whole area, we are able to go wherever we wish and vastly increase not only the chances of seeing cetaceans, but also the number of species. Very often the areas we visit are well offshore and the whales are undisturbed, a situation we make every effort to avoid changing.

We are very strict in avoiding disturbance to these wonderful creatures, however in many cases it is the whales and dolphins that come to us, and over the season they can become very familiar and friendly towards Guideliner and her passengers.

We spend the whole time as far away from civilisation as possible, and in the evenings we are able to land and explore the islands and see the other fabulous wildlife of the area. Similarly, if the weather is too poor to allow us to access the cetacean grounds, we can lie on anchor in a secluded place and go ashore and make the best use of our time. The foods good too!!

So there is your choice. But if you want to make the very best use of your time whale watching, and see lots of other wildlife then hopefully you will agree that a cruise on board Guideliner has lots to offer.

The photographs that follow were all taken on our wildlife cruises

Minke whale between Stac an Armin and Boreray (St Kilda)

Humpback whale surface feeding near Mallaig

For some years we have had a very good reputation for finding cetaceans and our recent sightings list includes: humpbacked, minke, northern bottle-nosed, pilot, sei, and sperm whales. In addition we have seen Atlantic white-sided, bottle-nosed, common, risso’s, and striped dolphins, orca’s and of course lots and lots of harbour porpoise. We are also often fortunate to see basking sharks as well.

In 2000 the first reported sightings of minke whales on the West Coast was made by Guideliner on April 14th when three minke, two risso’s dolphins and several harbour porpoises were seen feeding at the Cairns of Coll, in the Inner Hebrides. From that time, on nearly all our wildlife cruises we have seen cetaceans during the trip.