Location: Coll
travel by sea, the natural world

Inspector Poirot of Coll

"A few summers ago, me and my pal took off in his Canadian canoe along the side of Loch Eatharna, from the middle pier of the village of Arinagour, past the main CalMac pier to Eilean Eatharna, the tidal island.

"Whilst we were exploring, we shored the canoe up on the island and came across two large bundles of white, polypropylene pallet banding. As this presents a hazard to nature and sea life, and is an eyesore, we decided to dispose of it safely by hauling it into the canoe and transporting it back to the village. It was really heavy and filled most of the canoe. It was easily 2.5 times the height and nearly covered the length of the canoe. I’d already attracted an audience of about 20 seals due to singing to them on the paddle out. I had attracted so many seals but, by now, my canoe partner was getting slightly irritated by this because I was singing the same songs to them over and over again. I enjoy singing to the seals especially in the water, in their environment.

"I was still singing as we paddled back to the village pier and we carried on picking up sporadic floating pieces of plastic. The seals, with their inquisitive nature, followed the canoe as they do although I started to notice the number of seals dropping off. One seal caught our attention as he was dogged enough to follow our canoe. He continued to swim with us behind the canoe a small distance about eight to ten metres away from us. He tailed us until we landed at the middle pier. I called him Inspector Poirot because of his bug, bushy eyebrows, beautiful eyes and moustache. He was a very distinguished looking seal.

"When we landed near the middle pier, I felt an urge to turn around, something was calling my attention… There was Inspector Poirot as we berthed, with a farm feed bag in his mouth. At that point there was no difference between man and beast, the message from the seal was friendly and helpful as if to say ‘Here’s some more rubbish for you, we don’t need this here – this is yours: this is man’s’. Once it had ensured we had taken notice, it left the bag for us and swam off. My pal then relaunched the canoe and retrieved the feed bag. This was truly a magical moment that will stay with us."

As told by 'a local lass', Coll

More information on visiting the area can be found here.