Monday, 10 August 2009

Coming Up For Air

Saturday 8th August
Coming Up For Air
Image Left: Bottlenose Dolphin

The sky has already begun to darken. I watch an orange glow fill the spaces between the cloud on the horizon. The swell is hitting a small reef on the other side of a wide gully that runs through Erraid’s outer skerries. Pleasant domes of water draw themselves up into foaming monsters before petering out in the backwash of other islets. The sea is a mess, in the distance the mast of yacht swings like the arm of a metronome as it motors its way towards the shelter of Tinker’s Hole.

I cut the engine and put my faith in the ocean and Archimedes. My fishing line drops to the sea bed and I wind the reel up a little before jogging the lures up and down. The fish come thick and fast, mackerel and saithe of equal size. I toss them into a fish box while they are still flicking their tails against the air. And then the fins come and I forget the fish and watch as a pod of dolphins bounce out of the gully through the crests. In the turbulence they appear and disappear as if by magic sometimes within an arms reach of the boat then away as tail lost on the far side of a wave. This is too easy, fish on the line and dolphins for company.

I can’t be sure but this is probably the same pod we saw yesterday out in the Sound of Iona. At the time my oldest son temporarily forgot his sea sickness as they neared the boat. The weather had been better and sea more readily gave up its secrets. At a guess I would say there was between ten and fifteen dolphins in the group including a couple of juveniles. Close up their fins and skin give up detail in form of nicks, bite marks and blemishes; its a hard life being a dolphin despite the fixed grin. They moved through the sound gathering a flotilla of pleasure craft drawn from both shores; we left them to the crowd.

Tonight I have the ocean and the dolphins to myself, so I drift under a darkening sky. A grey seal joins the fun stretching his head out of the water to view the contents of my boat as it tilts on a wave. The dolphins eventually move off out into the larger swells beyond the island. I start the engine and turn tail for home leaving a phosphorescent wake in the darkness of the sound.

Image Below: Coming up for Air (Bottlenose Dolphin)

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