Saturday, 16 August 2014

Washed Up at Sanna

We drove over to Sanna yesterday to inspect the whale which Sue Cheadle had reported as washed up on one of the white sand beaches - see yesterday's blog.  We found it at the north end, near the Sanna burn, lying just above the high-tide line surrounded by an appreciative crowd of gulls.

The suggestion that it's been subject to some sort of attack while at sea seems a strong possibility as the head is almost completely severed from the body, and the flesh from the dorsal fin to the tail is missing.  At present it doesn't smell, but the local Coastguard has been informed and, hopefully, they'll think about removing it.

A look at its skull suggests it's probably a minke whale, and the baleen plates that enable it to filter the water for food are clearly visible.

The whale isn't the only thing that's stranded along Sanna's sands: there are also a couple of these lion's mane jellyfish.  Each year, we see some jellyfish but this year hasn't brought many.  There was a short period earlier in the summer when shoals of moon jellyfish were to be seen in the Sound, along with some lion's manes, but they disappeared.

After we'd walked along the beaches, we set off across the hills to the north of the township for the north coast.  As we approached the cliff line, we saw four hoodies and a couple of ravens, often a sign that something dead is providing them with a meal.

Sure enough, when we looked over the cliff edge to the rocky bay below we saw this dead sheep.  While it's most likely to have fallen over the cliff, it may have been washed up during one of the recent spring tides.


  1. When we crossed by ferry to Tobermory at the time of the Kilchoan Regatta, we watched in awe at thousands of Moon jellyfish and the occasional Lion's Mane. They were visible from about half way across until the entrance to Tobermory bay at a variable density of between 3-10 per square metre. Some of the larger Moon jellyfish must have been up to 200mm across with sizes ranging right down to the size of an egg cup.
    I understand from a generous fisherman who gave us 4 for our camp fire, that mackerel have also been abundant at times. A delightful and memorable feast.

  2. Hi Jon,
    I work for the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme we are responsible for collected data on all stranded marine mammals, basking sharks and turtles in Scotland. I wonder if you could give me a little more information on the whale, a location would be great (grid ref or lat/long) or just the name of the beach on Sanna. Our e-mail address is Kind Regards Nick Davison Stranding Coordinator.

  3. Hi Nick - you should have received an email from me in response to your comment. Jon