How Wildlife Sightings Can Take a SUP Tour to a Whole Other Level!
The weather is a favorite topic of conversation among Irish folk. I think that is because it is so mutable and is a shared experience between all people and things. However, We humans have been the only ones to label certain weather as “good” or “bad”. Some animals seem to prefer conditions we would consider unfavorable and if we can get over our big fat selves and venture out anyway, we can come across some of the best surprises!
With the sun shining everyday, it’s hard to imagine life with constant rain again. But we live in Ireland, and regular rain is part of the deal. It isn’t called the Emerald Isle for nothing. What we have to remind ourselves, is that this is not necessarily a “bad” thing. In fact it can come with plenty of perks.
I distinctly remember a tour last summer. It was the early evening, we’d been out with groups for most of the day and a rather dense fog had descended with a persistent wet drizzle. The wind, however, was wonderfully light.
We have a policy here at Wild SUP Tours that we only cancel a tour if the wind is too strong, we don’t cancel for rain. It is a watersport after all, and people generally get wet anyway, so why would a little rain matter?
So out into the water we paddled. I must confess, the group didn’t look too over joyed at the prospect of spending a wet evening out on the water. When we all think of paddle boarding we think of Tahiti, Hawaii, or California, with the sun shining, the air warm and nothing but bakini’s worn. So wrapping up in wetsuits and venturing out in the grey is a bit of a leap of faith for most people. However, the wetsuits work, everyone was warm, so out we paddled into the mist.
The water was glassy and silent. The mist lending a sort of magical eeriness to the entire experience. It was a small group out in the water that evening, and they were a wonderfully intrepid lot. As we paddled along the twists and bends of the coastline we marveled at the underwater world existing within the seaweed fronds below all to a backdrop of echoing gull cries.
It was a rather quiet tour, with very little splashing or whooping. We were all immersed in our thoughts as we glided smoothly through the water, becoming one with the landscape. It was this symbiotic relationship with the environment that allowed for the magic to happen.
We had paddled a few kilometres and were nearing the harbour mouth when a small splash to our right brought us all back to the here and now.
And there, again! A sleek dark shape slipping under the water’s surface.
Eventually the creature stayed above the water long enough for us to identify him. It was an otter! Low and behold, it wasn’t alone, there was a whole family there playing in the quiet evening tide!
I can’t quite explain the delight that bubbles up when you share a space with a wild animal in their natural habitat. It puts life a little more into perspective. I appreciate my place in the ecosystem a little bit more with each encounter. The bigger picture becomes clearer and the web of life and the complexity of the connections between all things start to come into focus. Sharing a moment with a wild animal, makes me happy like very little else in the world can.
The otters fed and played in the water around us for what felt like a lifetime, but was probably only 10 minutes or so in reality. We all stood there, floating on the sea, watching in awe at the wonderful sight unfolding before us.
All good things must come to an end and eventually the otters disappeared. It was time to paddle home. We turned around and started the journey back, in a state of pure euphoria from what we had just been a part of and witness to.
This is one of those moments that I will remember for ever. It was one of those moments that reinforce why I paddle in the first place. It was an experience I felt truly honored to be able to share with those wonderful people, all thanks to Wild SUP Tours!
See what we captured on video of the encounter!
don’t mind the low video quality, we were filming on mobile phones in low light levels.