Have a whale of a time beachcombing

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Minke whale remains found near Elgol

The beaches of the west coast of Skye are wide open to the full force of Atlantic gales and, as a consequence, throw up up all kinds of amazingly interesting finds making beachcombing a fascinating and educational experience.  From whales – mostly decomposing and smelly – to welly boots – mostly yellow and several of one foot but never a pair – the range of finds is extraordinary.

Some of it comes from nearby but a lot comes from far out in the Atlantic.  Look for all the different languages on plastic packaging, or example, to get an idea of where this waste and lost material comes from.

There’s far less wood and much more plastic among the flotsam thesedays which tends to make beachcombing less productive than it once was but treasures are still to be found.  Ropes, creels and other bits of fishing gear, including fish boxes, are always useful while fuel cans and various containers can usually be put to good use.

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Short-beaked common dolphin at Glen Scaladal

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Teeth and jaw of short-beaked common dolphin

The remains of cetaceans are not unusual. The minke whale carcass kept the local seabirds fed for many months a few winters ago and a short-beaked common dolphin on the beach at Glen Scaladal had largely been picked clean by the time we found it.

It is always worth reporting any strandings of dead cetaceans to:  Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme – 0800 652 0333

Should you find a live cetacean stranded on the shore then you need to urgently contact: SSPCA – 0131 339 0111

The beaches around Elgol are usually very good for beachcombing, especially those that face west or south west.  These beaches are also very good for rock pooling and can hold a variety of interesting wildlife.

At Springbank Cottage we provide nets and other resources for rock pooling as part of a range of environmental activities on offer at the cottage.  So make sure that you allow some time for rock pooling and beachcombing on a visit to Skye.