We love the Sound of Harris and the neighbouring waters. The turquoise sea and the white beaches give the warm feeling of an archipelago in the Caribbean, even on a cold Hebridean day. So we paddled the sound a fair bit to get this holiday feeling.
But the Sound of Harris and the islands around it have a more sinister taste as well. It is the spot where Charlotte and I found the most whale and dolphin skeletons and corpses of all our trips. I must admit, I love a good skull or skeleton, to see the bare bone structure of any living creature is so fascinating to me. But that is a completely different story altogether and will be a blog post for another time.
For now, I would like to share the disheartening side. If whales of dolphins pass our little kayaks, it is so extremely joyful and breathtaking. You realise that they were made for this environment and we are merely visitors with our clumsy surrogate flippers. In that light, it is so saddening to see something so majestic and large, lifeless on the coast. Almost like too much dead to handle at once. And that is without mentioning the smell.
I came to this story because it is Christmas and the time of year to do research for a new trip. I ran into this shocking news on CNN (read the article here). I gravitated to the image by the familiar sight of the hills lining the area around the Sound of Harris and the magical Hebridean light I know so well. But on the centre stage of the picture, this huge departed soul, the cadaver of a young sperm whale.
For me, the saddest part of the story is, this whale was found with about 100 kilograms of human-made trash in its stomach. Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme (SMASS) researcher, performing the necropsy could not determine if this was the cause of death, but it must be clear that it was not helping this creature’s digestion. It feels so pointless, that just by our lack of care and indifference in our lifestyle, we harm these magnificent beings.
So let us all make our new years resolution, the effort to reduce our footprint to only be those on the white sand. And limit the unwanted effect we have on our Planetmates.
Alexander & Charlotte Gannet