Back in the boat we were all full of adrenaline from the good start to the day, and ready for another drop.
The sharks hung around to feed all day and we spent several hours like this, being dropped to watch them cruise past with their huge mouths agape as they filtered water through their gills, retaining the zooplankton.
Sometimes they would turn and swim past us several times or circle us before swimming away. We returned to harbour very happy.
We stayed on the Isle of Coll for a week, devoted another day to the basking sharks and were lucky enough to get a lot of good encounters, at least at the start of the day.
After a couple of hours they seemed to be moving away, and after searching for a while we were about to give up when we saw a fin in shallow water by a beach.
We approached slowly, slipped into the water and waited for the shark to come to us. Moments later a shadow swept over the white-sand bottom and passed right beneath me in the clear water, almost slapping me with its tail as it moved away.
With this rare and beautiful encounter we decided to call it a day and head back. On the way we heard reports of dolphins nearby and after heading in that direction suddenly found ourselves surrounded by hundreds of common dolphin jumping and playing around the boat. What a way to end two amazing days at sea!
A dive-trip to Scotland would not be complete without diving some lochs. We wanted to see the Isle of Skye so chose nearby lochs: Duich and Carron.
In Loch Duich the bottom is mostly mud and rock and the objective is mainly macro. We dived two sites over a couple of days, and the night dives especially provided interesting sightings.
We encountered bobtail and common squid, a thornback ray, various crabs, lots of long-clawed squat lobsters, sea pens, dogfish and gurnards.
At one site the bottom was covered in thousands of different-coloured brittlestars crawling over each other, a spectacular sight.
Stout bobtail squid at Loch Carron.
Loch Carron, beside being a good place to find interesting sea creatures, provided some beautiful scenery. At a site by the castle in North Strome the wall was covered in deadman’s fingers, and closer to the surface the kelp stood tall and flowed in the stream. We really enjoyed this beautiful gentle drift-dive.
Even more interesting, however, was what we found at the bottom. It wasn’t exhilarating at first glance, but looking more closely at what seemed to be a carpet woven of rocks and shells we could see its creators the flame shells peeking out from beneath it.
Loch Carron contains the world’s largest known flame shell reef, an important environment used by many different species to reproduce. Again the night-life was especially diverting, from bobtail squid to Yarrell’s blennies.
We took some time out driving around the highlands to take in their beauty as the end of our allotted time in the UK approached, but we did have one last dive destination planned before leaving the country.
Grey seal at the Farne Islands.
We headed to the Farne Islands in hopes of getting acquainted with its famous inhabitants – the thousands of grey seals that live on its rocky shores.
We took the short boat-ride out to the islands from Seahouses harbour and almost immediately found seals lying in the sun on the cliffs. We spent a while watching them from the boat.
Now it was all about finding a good spot where the current was right for diving with the seals.
We found a good spot and jumped into the water. We descended along the kelp-covered wall and started swimming along it, heading for the canyon we had spotted from the boat.
For the second dive we had to find a new spot because the current had changed. The chosen site also had a canyon so we decided to go straight for it, which turned out to be a good decision.
The seals were just as playful on this dive, and not only our fins but also the cameras were inspected inquisitively.
Several seals came up to nibble my strobes, and even the protection around the domes on both our cameras. We had so much fun playing with them that the dive seemed to be over way too soon.
After that more-than-satisfactory conclusion to this leg of our journey, all that remained was to drive down to Dover to catch the ferry back to France.
The idea was to do some more wreck-diving, we hoped with better visibility than before, before continuing to our next destination – Portugal.