Whalebone with a view over Harris
Whalebone on the beach of Taransay, with a view on Harris.

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.

Minke whale cadaver on the rocks of  the coast line near Aird Asaig on Harris
Paddling past a Minke whale cadaver on the rocks of Aird Asaig (Harris)

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.

CNN Picture and story that triggered my dismay on Christmas day.
This is a small picture to comply with Fair use. See the full story here

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


  1. The Cedar Journal on 1st January 2020 at 16:59

    The Cedar Journal is very much with you on this resolution!!! We have been picking up micro plastics off our beautiful Dutch beaches over the holiday…sad as we picked up 20liters of trash in less than 500meters! We are also trying to reduce or plastic use (seems like a huge task as everything is encased in the stuff).

    • Charlotte on 3rd January 2020 at 11:28

      Yes I know, it is terrible! I’m also trying to decrees my use of plastic by using plastic bags of all sizes multiple times and buy vegetable on the farmer’s markets without the plastic. But it is shocking to see people leaving stuff in the environment. We see a lot of waste being washed up on pristine beaches in Scotland. I will be writing about that a little later.

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