The Whale

I was looking for a picture on an old hard drive when I came across this story. Winter time throws up all sorts of scenarios, this one fairly got us going. 2nd November 2006.

Found

Found

The dogs, Choppy and Lady were showing an interest in the forest SE of the house, end of November I would wonder where they were, give them a shout and they would appear from that area. I thought no more about it but on the day I went for a run round the bay, just to give the boat (then) and engines a run before it came out for the winter. I took a trip up the gut to the East of Rona Lodge and could not believe my eyes when I saw this dead Minke whale lurking on the shore.

What a smell

What a smell

To say it was smelling was an understatement. The last thing we needed was a stinking decomposing body of a 5 meter + whale lying less than 80 metres from the House, not that we get much NE wind but………

The tow Begins

The tow Begins

Lorraine was not long on Rona at the time so we set too, attached a rope and ‘attempted’ to tow the creature out of the harbour and hopefully into Dhu Chamas. The tide was good so we thought we had a chance.

Ever Tried Towing a Whale Backwards

Ever Tried Towing a Whale Backwards

It was obvious that it had been dead for a while, the gulls had been busy, there were a couple of marks like cuts on it but these could have been caused by the rocks where it had been bouncing on the shore. We towed it out from the shore and with nothing to tie it at at the front end it was a nightmare trying to tow a whale backwards. They are not really designed for that………..

Zig Zag

Zig Zag

The wee boat we had at the time was struggling for sure and as the light was not going to last long we felt we may have to abandon our mission. But the tide must have been with us as we approached the mouth of the harbour because we got through the opening and for a couple of hundred meters the whale seemed easier to tow.

Slow Progress

Slow Progress

But then it stopped, it zig zagged about and at one point we got in a right mess.

Getting There

Getting There

I had to go round about and start again.

Gone West

Gone West

But then we got back underway and it started to come, very slowly with us.

X

X

I seem to remember it was a bull, beautiful animal, but very dead. And smelling like nothing on earth. What do you do with it?

Better From The Front

Better From The Front

As it started to get dark we were almost there. The wind was out of the West so all we had to do was get it to the mouth of Dhu Chamas.

Darkening

Darkening

Almost there and we were just about dark when we had no option but to let the whale go.

Almost There

Almost There

We pulled the rope in, cut it loose and watched it for a while as the tide and West wind took it into Dhu Chamas, with the tide still rising and a spring tide at the time I was pretty confident it would end up on the shore for a good while.

At The Mouth of The Harbour

At The Mouth of The Harbour

We got home and promptly phoned Stornoway coastgaurd to tell them about a dead whale floating about in the Gap, ‘just in case’ there were smaller boats about but they were unconcerned.

Almost At Dhu Chamas

Almost At Dhu Chamas

A week later I took a trip down to Dhu Chamas and there it was just short of the beach at the place where the old fish farm was. There was no chance of it moving, the seagulls and various carrion eaters were having a field day, for sure.

Spring time 2007 we went out for a walk, looking for deer and ended up at Dhu Chamas, we went down to where the whale was but all we could find was a pile of bones, we carried off the bones we could, the rest slipped into the water never to be seen again, it was amazing that such a large mammal could just disappear in such a short time, less than 5 months.

Since these days the whales, Basking sharks and Dolphins have not been so plentiful. I’m sure they will come back as patterns change all the time. Hopefully they will be alive and not dead.

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About Bill Cowie

I've been living on the island since April 2002, alone for the first 5 years, my partner L joined me in 2007. We manage the Island for a Danish family who bought the Island in the early 90's. Their hopes for the Island are to make it self sufficient supporting its inhabitants and that is where we come in. We look after the stock, 3 holiday cottages, machinery, boat and of course the visitors. It is pretty challenging but it is a beautiful place to live and work, we love it and strangely enough we love it even more in the depths of winter when all is quiet apart from the gales and rain. We do a bit of fishing, stock work, stalking deer and loads of other stuff. We have good support from lots of people whom we have met over the years and have become involved in the Island. Too many to mention here but keep an eye on the blog, they'll be there for sure in the future.
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