Neist Point in Glendale is undisputedly the finest place on the Isle of Skye for watching whales, dolphins, porpoise and basking shark, with pods being resident from May through to September. The peak months are June and July, when sightings of Minke Whales become almost a daily event.
The Minke Whales often approach within 5 to 10 metres of the shore, giving spectacular views and the amazing opportunity to hear them 'blow' as they surface.
To get the best views, choose a day when the sea is flat calm and pick your way carefully to the water's edge between the end of the point and the lighthouse. Find a comfortable rock, with a good view either side, sit and wait... patiently!
Minke Whales often carry distinguishing marks, such as the one in the photograph (top right) that has a red, diagonal scar (\) on its left flank below the dorsal fin. Their commonest colouration is jet black but some individuals, believed to be juveniles, appear blueish with pale flanks.
For the closest views, Neist Point is the best place on Skye. They are also regularly seen off Lower Milovaig and have come inside Loch Pooltiel.
Common Dolphins are regularly seen in the Minch off Lower Milovaig and also off Neist Point during the summer months. They are also seen occasionally in Loch Dunvegan as far up as the Three Chimneys at Colbost.
These are the basic features that distinguish Glendale's commonest cetaceans:
A harbour porpoise came very close to shore at Neist Point, early afternoon.
There was a pod of orcas (killer whales) off Neist Point that headed up the Minch at 12:30pm. This was the same pod that we saw on Saturday but they were much closer, which allowed us to see that they were a bull, two females and two small calves. The pod was seen again at 7pm by someone in the Shiant Isles, heading from Staffin across to Gairloch. The bull is thought to be either Hulk (a Scotland-Iceland migrant) or Busta (one of the northern isles orcas).
There were also two harbour porpoises close in to the shore at Neist and another four out in the Minch.
There were three orcas (killer whales) off Neist Point. They were far out in the Minch between South Uist and Canna at 1pm. Worked their way into the sound between Rum and Skye before doubling back around Canna.
There were two bonxies at Neist Point.
Killer whales are occasionally seen off the Neist Point and Milovaig. They have a distinctive large, upright dorsal fin.
This camcorder footage of a pod of killer whales was taken at Neist Point on July 23rd, 2008 by Matt Swain.
Harbour Porpoises are most often seen in the mouth of Loch Pooltiel, off Meanish Pier, with pods of up to 12 being present throughout the Summer. Another fairly good place for them is Moonen Bay, very close inshore, at the point where Loch Mor flows into the sea.
Basking sharks are Britain's largest fish and are totally unrelated to true sharks. They float around with their white, dustbin-like mouths wide open hoovering up plankton.
They are very common in the sheltered coves around Neist, Oisgill and Milovaig during the Summer months.