Friday, 27 August 2010

(Basking) Shark!

One of the best coastal walks on Arran follows the shore from Sannox, around the Cock of Arran to Lochranza. Its about 15km of remote coastline, ancient villages, caves and wildlife. This week Iain and Joy joined me for the day to view wildlife and explore the coast. The picture below shows the remote Laggan Cottage, only accessible on foot, and the view north towards Kintyre.

As we walked along the shore, buzzards circled overhead, and gannets dived dramatically into the sea on our right. If we looked carefully out to sea we could make out the dancing shapes of manx shearwaters skimming across the whitecaps.

The highpoint of the day however was without doubt a basking shark, feeding on plankton in the sheltered waters close to the shore. These giants of the sea are harmless to humans, but sadly increasingly rare. At about 12 foot long this one was not large- they can grow to be 25 feet plus! If you are lucky enough to spot a basking shark you can record your sighting on the Marine Conservation Society website. Very little is known about these gentle giants and every reported sighting adds to the knowledge.

Finally, a gratuitous wildflower shot!  Grass of Parnassus is in bloom on the boggy coastlines of Arran at the moment, and is absolutely beautiful. You can see it right now on the Sannox to Lochranza walk, and also along the shore near Kings caves. It is a pale fleshy flower, with grey veins, about 2-3 cm in diameter.  The leaves are round and found near the base of a single stem.

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