Loch Dunvegan is home to not only the Clan Macleod’s castle but to important colonies of common seals. 35% of Skye’s total population or 2% of the UK’s population to be more precise. The waters of Loch Dunvegan have hence been designated as a special area of conservation because of the seal population.
The Scottish Canoe Association published in April this year their revised Sea Kayaking Environmental Guidelines and contained in it is paragraph with particular relevance to Loch Dunvegan:
Please be aware that many tour boat owners make a living from taking tourists to look at seal colonies. The seals usually stay put when these boats approach, but often take to the water when kayaks are in the same area. Difficulties arise when kayakers cause the seals to leave their rocks and beaches, to be followed by tour boats with tourists who are disappointed at not seeing the seals hauled out on land and this in turn leaves the tour boat owners annoyed. Try to be aware of the areas where such tour boats operate and take extra care to avoid disturbing the seals.
It’s best to perhaps to consider wisely the impact of getting too close to the seals which haul out on the skerries near to the castle as the seals won’t be best pleased and the boatmen from the castle with their fee paying tourists won’t be either. Remember though everyone has a equal right to enjoying the wildlife of Scotland in a responsible manner.
It would be fair to say that Richard and I weren’t made to feel particularly welcome by arriving by sea kayak in the bay under the castle. Remember though that so long as you keep below the HW mark you are on Crown Estate property and aren’t obliged to pay any sort of fee.