Being a wildlife guide can be a tricky business – you never know what you’re going to see, and even if you do see it, will your expectant customers:
A. Be impressed? And:
B. Also manage to see it before it runs/swims/flies away?
There are days when wildlife just simply isn’t there and you have to make the most of whatever you’ve got around you (oh look everybody – a herring gull!) but other times, the wildlife makes your job so easy you can just sit back and relax…
This week, a pod of ten dolphins came along to greet the boat, leaping out of the water, splashing with tail slaps and swimming alongside us for half an hour. In my two years of watching whales and dolphins at sea, I’ve never had such a close and mesmerising encounter with these inquisitive creatures.
Their dark grey bodies glided in and out of the water with such elegance that only Olympian swimmers can aspire to. Some of them bore white scratches on their rubbery skin – scars from fights amongst their own or with other pods.
The most wonderful part was that the dolphins were choosing to spend time with us. Not wanting to outstay our welcome, we started to leave after 15 minutes – but they followed us! They swam alongside the boat, titling onto their sides to get a better look at us and even showed off by swimming upside down.
For half an hour they graced us with their presence and, after we left, I looked back to see them a mile away. Their black silhouettes gently kissing the glassy surface before disappearing under the cool waters and out of sight.
I was absolutely elated. Part of me wished that everyday was this easy – but half the fun is the challenge of using your skills to find the wildlife too. I could write a whole book on “The Trials and Tribulations of Being a Wildlife Guide” – from guests wanting me to attract whales by whistling to them, to days in the rain when there isn’t a hope of seeing birds of prey. But sometimes, a great deal of it can be sheer luck – and I’m grateful to whichever planets aligned for me (and more importantly, for my guests) to have one of the most fantastic experiences of a lifetime.