The 41st Burtonport Summer Festival programme included “Seal Watching Trips” to see one of Ireland’s largest seal populations, with Jim Muldowney of Dive Arranmore.
“The islands and rocks of Dungloe Bay are home to around 300 seals including pups at this time of year”, the programme suggested. I felt compelled to book a place.
The weather was a little windy and clouds filled the sky, as we set off from Burtonport Harbour. “Elsie Jayne,” a purpose built dive boat, provided a choice of seating both indoors and out; I chose to embrace the ocean breeze in the outer seating area.
Jim provided a very interesting commentary throughout the trip. Passing Rutland Island, we learned that more than 600 people worked for Rutland Fisheries in the 1780’s, when herring fishing was at its peak.
Sadly, the fishing industry went into decline and the island is no longer inhabited, except for seasonal visitors to a number of holiday homes.
The shores of Rutland Island
Nature provided an abundance of photographic opportunities, including a group of Cormorants taking time out from fishing:
And lots of seagulls searching for a tasty bite:
Sailing past Inishfree Island into Dungloe Bay, Elsie Jayne slowed down to avoid disturbing the seals. Aided by binoculars provided by Dive Arranmore, we searched the waves and rocks:
and we were soon rewarded with LOTS of seals – some sunbathing on rocks, others delighting in a spot of swimming, and a number of curious little heads peaking above the waves with delightful doe eyes. It was thrilling to observe these beautiful creatures.
I took just two photographs as keepsakes. The camera of my memories was blessed with many other priceless seal snaps.
It was a truly memorable experience. Indeed the weather Gods were kind to our group for it remained dry until we approached Burtonport Harbour.
I hope to return for a “Sea Safari” adventure. If you click on Dive Arranmore then Sea Safari (at the bottom of the page), there is a wonderful video of dolphins swimming off Arranmore Island – Mother Nature at her finest.
This post was written as a thank you for Dive Arranmore’s wonderful hospitality, and not for financial gain.
Brigid P. Gallagher
Memoir: “Watching the Daisies – Life Lessons on the importance of Slow” is available from Amazon and all good online book stores.
Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/r5GCjaetgZk