Gordon Buchanan takes household names on a wildlife adventure. Gordon and Dermot begin their trip on Skye on the lookout for seals and golden eagles.
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I'm Gordon Buchanan.
I've filmed the most amazing creatures on the planet.
Wow. These are animals that have killed people.
But for me, some of the best wildlife
is right here on our doorstep...
..and I'd like some of our best-loved household names
to experience it as I do.
-It's just awe-inspiring.
-That was unbelievable.
-Oh, what an experience.
I can spend weeks or even months
tracking down these elusive creatures.
This time, I have just three days.
This could be the biggest challenge of my career.
I'm in the Western Isles of Scotland
with someone I'm more used to seeing in a suit.
Dermot O'Leary - Mr Saturday Night...
..radio presenter and all-round good bloke.
He started his career on local radio.
Now he has his own show on Radio 2.
I can wake up whistling a tune in my head
and go down to my CD collection and go, "I'm going to play that today."
And what you might not know about him
is that he's crazy about fishing and the great outdoors.
We live in this extraordinary country
that's got this great wildlife
and beautiful environment on our doorstep.
Yeah, it just seems a waste if you're not out there enjoying it.
I think what we've seen just sort of landscape-wise from the car,
and we haven't even got our feet wet...
For the next three days, we're going to be in and around Skye,
an island off the northwest coast of Scotland.
It's the largest in the Inner Hebrides -
639 square miles and home to 10,000 people.
But it's in the rich coastal waters around Skye
that I'm hoping to show Dermot some spectacular marine life.
On day one, we'll look for seals and the iconic golden eagle.
Then, we'll head off to Rum and its thriving deer population.
But it's dolphins,
whales and basking sharks
that I really want us to see.
Just keep your eyes open,
and if you see anything, point it out to me...
-..cos I might not necessarily have seen it myself.
We're heading towards Skye on the ferry.
It works via a manual turntable and it's the only one of its kind
left in the world.
It motors across the Kyle Rhea or the narrows.
At 500m, it's the shortest crossing between the mainland and the island.
Lucky for us, it's calm.
When it comes to wildlife,
the one thing that will impact on it is a lot of wind,
especially, you know, if we're looking for wildlife in the water.
If you've got waves that are that size,
-trying to see even an otter or something like that...
..it's really difficult because the waves kind of break it up.
But this is good.
Nice to be away from the midges as well. God, they were...
Yeah, it's only going to last five minutes.
Five, four, three, two, one, welcome to Skye.
-We're just about to...
-You're my welcoming party.
Tourism is one of the main industries on the island
and it's not hard to work out why.
The West Coast of Scotland, it has become a bit of a wildlife mecca.
People are here to see, you know, not just the island itself,
but to have a look out for the wildlife.
And that's kind of... I love that.
The Isle of Skye is famously rugged.
You've got some of these really beautiful, cosy little glens
that are covered in trees,
some beautiful, big beaches and all these sea lochs.
What are the Skye big five?
-Done. I'm in.
-One of the animals I might come back as...
-Would be what?
-Maybe a sea eagle.
-A sea eagle?
I like the idea of eating fish - one of my favourite things -
and, you know, being an apex predator.
Many of the UK's birds of prey are incredibly rare,
but there's a chance we may see one or two here.
I'd be disappointed if I couldn't show you a golden eagle.
-Are you serious?
-I really would.
I didn't think, like, we'd have a cat in hell's chance.
The real unknown for our kind of adventure together
is what we're going to see when we take to the sea.
-Oh, right, yeah.
But the big thing I'd really love to show you - a basking shark.
-I'd love to see a basking shark.
-Back down there in the narrows,
when the tide changes - grey seals, common seals...
-This is the real...
-We just have to get out there...
-..and start looking.
-..where we're going to start.
So, I have just three days to find seals, otters,
golden eagles, dolphins and basking sharks.
Yep, this is going to be tough.
I just wonder how well Dermot's going to cope
waiting patiently for these animals to show.
After all, this is a man who thrives on the adrenaline rush of live TV.
I love doing live telly more than anything else.
I mean, it's everything. It's just...it's the theatre of it.
It's the team aspect. I've always been a big team sport player.
You want everyone to have a good night.
It's something I'm quite passionate about.
-It's equal thirds down to luck, talent and hard work.
Yeah. Or luck, competence and hard work, you know.
It's sort of, you know, not really up to us to say
whether we're talented or not, but in your heart, like any job,
-you know you're competent at it if you keep doing it.
Kyle Rhea, where the ferry crosses,
is one of the fastest tidal streams in the UK.
The incoming tide brings supper for all sorts of predators,
and there's a chance we'll see otters, seals
or even a sea eagle.
-Millions of gallons of water every second...
..getting pushed through, and with that water, nutrients.
-All the kind of small stuff...
..that you can barely detect that enriches, you know,
the marine environments.
The fish are pushed to the surface
by the seals that live and hunt here at this time of year.
I'm really hoping that we see them, but as I know from experience,
just because this is a good place, it doesn't mean they'll appear.
Hey, there he is!
There are only two species of seal in the UK,
and the grey is one of them.
It's got a long, kind of horse-shaped face.
-Like a big Roman nose.
-Those are the grey seals. Like that one there.
If it's got a kind of cute,
slightly kind of puppyish look about it,
-that's the common seals.
Common seals are cuter, effectively.
That grey seal just took umbrage to what you just said
and he just went, "Pssh" and then submerged.
Seals spend most of their time at sea
and can swim hundreds of miles in search of food.
What's incredible is how far up they come.
They are competing with each other,
so if they kind of bob right out of the water,
they've got that kind of split second
to maybe spot where the other seals are
and think, "Well, OK, I'm not going over there
"cos there's four seals there already."
There must be a shoal of fish there.
-Oh! See that? Wow.
And it may well be that the seals are kind of...
They're not just treading water with their mouths open,
but they're going against the tide,
so any fish that are coming in that direction...
They're going so fast that they're going straight in, are they?
-Pretty much. Well...having to work less hard for it.
So, there's a lot of gulls at the moment -
kind of lesser black-backed gulls - but watch them and enjoy them.
I see a lot of seagulls back home. Are the gulls after any scraps?
He's definitely kind of... Look, fish-catching strategy.
You'll get, you know, surface feeders, like the gulls,
who will just sort of snatch what they can get.
They don't go under the water.
But then you've got things like shags and razorbills
and guillemots and puffins that can actually pursue fish underwater.
-So, they're effectively flying underwater.
This is a good start, Dermot, cos you've seen some seals,
and you did say that if this was all you saw, you could go home happy.
-Well, I did, but now...
-So, I can definitely improve on this.
-No, do you know what?
Already, I'm happy. You're right.
It just kind of whets your appetite for more.
I'd quite like to cuddle an eagle.
-I want an eagle...
I want an eagle to perch here and I can...he can talk to me.
I will do my very best.
At least you're not saying, "Well, I've seen enough."
DERMOT LAUGHS "This isn't for me,
-"this wildlife-watching malarkey."
This locale and the vista here
and the animals we're seeing - wonderful.
-Thank you, seals.
-Yeah, you've done good.
What an amazing start.
I'm so glad I was able to show Dermot a seal.
But the next animal I'm hoping to find
is going to be much more of a challenge.
-This is very exciting.
-It is. I am really excited.
I tell you, the excitement just comes
from not knowing exactly what we're going to see.
Golden eagles were once found all over the UK...
..but their numbers began to decline in the 18th and 19th century
after years and years of persecution.
Now they're confined almost entirely to the uplands of Scotland,
where over 400 pairs breed every year.
An easier way to spot them
is just to kind of try and get them
when they're against the sky cos you will see...
You can watch a golden eagle circling against the sky like that.
So, imagine, like those birds up there...
We've just got some gulls.
They stand out really well against the sky.
You could've told me they were golden eagles and I'd be happy.
No, not with the binoculars.
You would have got that. DERMOT LAUGHS
But if they were to drop down below the horizon...
-Yeah, of course.
-..they suddenly become much more difficult to see.
And that's a consideration when you're actually watching wildlife.
So, if you're trying to sneak up on deer
and you're on the skyline,
-you stick out like a sore thumb.
Birds in Scotland, golden eagle - that is the Holy Grail.
That's kind of, you know...
If I can show you one of them,
-my job with the feathered creatures is done and that's...
Let's go. Exciting. So exciting.
One particularly good spot for eagle watching
is the heart of the Cuillin mountains
here in the southwest of the island.
I have a huge amount of admiration for golden eagles in Scotland
because they have, despite the odds,
managed to cling on.
As a species, they're incredibly successful
and they can adapt to, you know, just a huge range of climates
and different landscapes.
They are incredibly majestic.
-Majestic and elusive.
And that's cool. I'm, you know...
-It shouldn't be served up on a platter...
..but it could be in the kitchen waiting for us.
There you go. Well done, Dermot O'Leary.
Chief golden eagle spotter.
-I'll just go home now, Dermot.
-Look at you.
They have a wingspan of around 2m.
After the white-tailed eagle,
they're the UK's biggest bird of prey.
Oh, there you go. You got it, Dermot.
-And I was...
There you go.
Look at you, beautiful.
-That sheep's getting a bit nervous.
Yeah, he's got nothing to worry about.
I mean, to get a sense of scale, you know,
we're not far off a mile away from that bird and I think...
-Can you get the sort of size of it?
-Absolutely. It looks huge.
We lose sight of the eagle for the next 45 minutes
and think it's gone for good.
Then, suddenly, it's there again
with what looks like a rabbit for its dinner.
If a bird's plucking feathers,
the feathers kind of are more likely to float off a little bit further,
whereas fluff will tend to just sort of drop sooner.
They'll do what we do. It's like after your Sunday lunch.
They will just go and find somewhere to relax and digest it.
It'll pick away on the rabbit.
A couple of hours before it gets dark,
it'll just find somewhere to roost for the night.
You've got, potentially, grouse up on the hills,
ptarmigan in the high tops, hare, rabbit, sea birds coming in.
Pretty much everything with the golden eagle is fair game.
Another thing that they'll do is keep an eye out
for ravens and crows because it's sort of, you know...
If you were to spot ravens and crows up on a hillside,
you are almost guaranteed that there is something dead up there.
To see a golden eagle,
you have to travel to these far-flung,
kind of romantic...
Come to Skye. Come to Skye.
Never in any doubt.
-That was fab.
-I knew. I knew. I always had faith.
-Now, show me some sharks.
I've set the bar high.
Brilliant. Let's go drink some whiskey.
It's the second day of our big adventure
and we're on our way to Elgol on Skye's southwest coast.
Then, we'll be heading out into the Atlantic Ocean
because Dermot is a self-confessed fishing nut.
How often do you come home without a fish?
-Well, do you know, it's rarely happened.
And that's not because we're good fishermen.
It's just because the fishing's pretty good
and, you know, I'm quite moral about it.
You take what you want to eat and maybe, you know,
you can gift a couple to friends and neighbours,
and the rest, you kind of put back. So, you try not to be too greedy.
But the wind is picking up, and that's not what you want
when you're on the lookout for marine critters.
-Permission to come aboard.
-Oh, crack on.
-Yeah, crack on.
-I'll put that there.
-That old seafaring term.
Crack on and get on board.
Our skipper is Gavin Martin,
and I'm hoping he'll be able to help us find dolphins,
minke whales and even a basking shark.
But, as always with wildlife, there is never a guarantee.
It's not just the animals you've got to find.
The weather conditions are sort of the big consideration.
So, it's not raining at the moment, but it is pretty choppy, so...
-Bit lumpy out there, isn't it?
You know, Dermot, this will be what it'll be,
and it will be lumpy and bumpy.
And the conditions don't improve as we head out into the ocean.
The only chance you've got of seeing anything
is to get out and start looking.
Keep an eye on the waves.
You're talking about kind of 3ft,
so even something as big as a fully-grown minke whale,
the part of its body that actually comes out of the water...
-Yeah, you could...
-..is really small.
And if it comes out when it's in the trough of a wave,
-you stand very little chance of seeing it.
In an ideal world, if you're out looking for wildlife,
it would be flat, flat calm.
And this is a million miles from flat calm.
-Are you not cold, by the way?
-No. I've not got a vest or anything.
Thanks. I need someone to look out for me, but I'll be OK.
If you see me shivering, a hug...
-A hug and a blanket.
-That, that I can do.
-A hot drink.
-I'm a huggy guy.
That was pretty much the only thing I knew of you.
That's why you brought me, right?
-Dermot O'Leary gives THE best hugs.
-That's it. That's an eight out of ten.
-It's not bad.
Nothing wrong with a little bromance.
The waves are making it impossible to spot anything out here.
Hey, that's a big, old wave.
We're never going to be able to spot the sea life I know is here...
..so we head round to a sheltered cove off Canna,
an island southwest of Skye, where it's calm enough to kayak.
-The water's really clear.
-It is. It looks really clear,
but once you stick your head under there,
you realise, actually, that there's a lot of murk,
and that murk is life.
It's plankton. At this time of year, it's plankton soup.
And plankton is the staple diet of a basking shark.
And if we're lucky, we'll see one.
But if not, there's wildlife everywhere.
-How are the old waterproof trousers?
-Those are my polar bear trousers.
-Have these been mauled?
They've been, well, not mauled, but they've been...nearly soiled.
Dermot's never been kayaking before...
-This is the real deal, isn't it, Gordo?
-Yeah, I know.
..but I love it and am hoping to convert him.
I'm very excited about this.
I think, um... Yeah, I love kayaking.
It's kind of just doing something under your own steam.
Wildlife - it lets you get that little bit closer.
Um, and you're kind of closer to the water,
so you're kind of more part of it.
It's great using a big boat to kind of cover big distances,
but, you know, just to have a nice, quiet experience,
you have to do that with muscle power rather than horsepower.
You'll find that keeping your weight in the middle...
..that's what will keep you dry.
And, I mean, they're not the most manoeuvrable of vessels.
You'll find turning them is...
-So, if you flip...
Perfect. Avoid the ship.
You're learning on the job, Dermot. It's the best thing.
-So you say.
And you'll find, if you're getting waves at the side...
..it's a little less stable,
but if you're facing into the waves, it cuts through.
Oh, I see. So, now is pretty unstable.
Yeah, but it does...
To reassure you, it takes a lot to flip these.
Canna has a thriving
sea bird colony,
but research has discovered that the island's brown rats
were decimating the local populations
by feeding on their chicks and eggs.
Shags were one species that were badly hit.
Their numbers decreased by 40%.
specially designed bait boxes with poison
were spread across the island.
Within a few months, all the rats were dead.
Now the number of shags is once again on the increase,
and sea cliffs like these are
perfect breeding grounds for them.
So, can those adolescents fly yet?
Yeah, they'll be able to fly
and they'll probably be able to catch fish.
-They're all off.
-There you go.
Oh, that's fantastic.
See the way that they use their feet?
Start beating their wings and use their webbed feet
to kind of run along the surface of the water.
And when you see them in the water kind of like this,
you think, "They're just hanging about doing nothing,"
but rather than going searching for food,
they'll wait for fish to come their way
-and then that's when they'll switch into hunting mode.
Shags are amazing birds.
They can stay underwater for nearly a minute, diving to 45m.
You'll see them dipping their head underwater.
-They're just having a little peek.
-The more you find out about nature,
-the more you realise it's just rest, food, rest, food.
-So few other species just have fun.
-Dolphins have fun.
But there are no dolphins here. Just these lovely shags.
It's fantastic, isn't it? Wonderful sight.
-So much more heightened by the fact that we're down where we are.
All these sea birds, they're only all here in such diversity
because they do things slightly differently.
They catch their food in different ways.
So, there's not competition between them?
Yeah, no, it's all kind of... It's a sort of democracy.
It's been sorted out over, you know, millions of years.
Just being this close to the water makes a complete difference
as to how close you get to the wildlife,
-how close you can get to the scenery.
Even the smells and the texture of it is different from being in a...
Yeah, even the boat we were on over there.
The smells and texture's different
when you're properly at the coalface.
There's a bit of a fear factor to it as well.
-There's no getting away from that.
-I wasn't going to mention that.
-I'd blocked that out, but, yeah.
-And the fact that I might tip
at any point. You know, I do...I do love it.
But we can't hang around on the water all afternoon.
I'd like Dermot to show me just how good a fisherman he really is
by helping me catch dinner.
Dermot O'Leary, master fisherman. HE LAUGHS
I don't know about master fisherman.
Before I've even got my line in the water...
-Ooh, you're a keeper as well.
-..has caught his first fish.
What a beauty. Look at that.
-Come on, little one.
-It is just one, though, Dermot. Just one.
That is a beautiful-sized mackerel, isn't it?
I'm sorry I've got to do this.
Oh! It's a real leveller, fishing.
I really enjoy it, but it never gives me a thrill to kill a fish.
We'd do all right, Dermot. We would survive.
We've got that kind of hunter-gatherer
thing about us. DERMOT LAUGHS
-I think one more drop...
..and we're going to have ourselves a fine old dinner.
It's great to catch your own dinner.
There's something quite primeval about that.
Or just back to... You feel properly back to nature.
I think, for you, as the kind of person...
That is quite some contrast between, you know, from...
-You know, kind of...
In a big studio, you're kind of holding all that together,
you know, on live TV and all the pressures that come with that.
There's probably a lot of people that are as recognisable as you
that the way they'd like to spend their time
is on the deck of a luxury yacht in the South of France
and it's kind of...
That doesn't seem to be your bag.
-"This is your version of that."
I don't know. Look, there's nothing nicer
than staying in a nice hotel sometimes and getting pampered,
but it's just I love the...
-I do love getting back to nature.
We have two, four...
..six... Hang on. Six, seven, eight. We've got eight mackerel there.
-Is that enough?
-I reckon so, yeah.
-Don't want to be greedy.
-Thank you, mackerel.
We're going to be spending the night on Rum,
an island southwest of Skye.
The whole island is a national nature reserve.
It's also one of Scotland's least populated islands.
Only 22 people live here.
Hey, hey, hey, hey!
-There we go. Welcome to Rum.
-Welcome to Rum.
Landed on Rum.
We have, um...we've got tents, we've got sleeping bags,
we've got some mackerel.
When it's like this, I kind of get really proud of Scotland.
-Oh, you should be.
-This is where I'm from.
Yeah, absolutely. I get it. I totally get it.
You know, I'm not so proud of it
when people are getting eaten alive with midges
and they're getting kind of, like,
throwing up over the side of a boat or...
DERMOT LAUGHS ..they're cold, wet and miserable,
but when it is like this, just...it's glorious.
Right, I think we should just head up there.
Dermot O'Leary, you are a very lucky man.
-What, what, what?
-There's an otter out there.
-No, no, no, no, no. There is an otter. Come with me.
I just caught a glimpse of it and I thought it was a seal.
There it is. OK, just further out.
About maybe 100m out, so at your kind of 12 o'clock.
-Yeah, yeah, yeah.
-You got it?
-So, keep an eye on that.
-Oh, hello, you.
It will kind of dive down,
maybe kind of spend 30 seconds under the water
and it'll pop back up again.
This time underwater is spent looking for crabs, small fish.
I've even seen an otter with a huge conger eel.
Oh, it's up again.
You can confuse them with seals at a kind of distance,
but when they dive,
-when they go down...
-..you see their tail.
The big, long tail sort of flaps and you don't get that with seals.
Seals kind of have this tiny, little, stubby tail.
This is really wonderful.
Otters are so elusive, so we're really lucky to see one.
-Yeah, I've seen him.
-There you go.
And as sightings go, that's far away for an otter.
-He is beautiful, isn't he?
-Yeah, they are great.
Come on. Where are you?
I think he was, or it was, swimming to the left.
-It may well have just disappeared round...
But that is...
That's a lovely little...
-What a lovely way to end the day.
-Oh, that's fantastic.
-It ain't over yet.
We still haven't pitched our tents.
You can go wild camping on most unenclosed land in Scotland,
so long as you leave it as you found it.
-Pop that down in there.
-When you were a kid...
-Did you ever go camping when you were a kid?
I'd shove that all the way through.
-Um, well, we kind of camped out in the garden.
Kind of sticking our heads out, looking up at the stars.
-Which way are you happy facing?
-I mean, that is quite small.
There's room for your toes. HE LAUGHS
Could you chuck us a couple of pegs?
Are you happy with that as a kind of...?
Yeah, it's a good sort of...
-Pegs will be...
-Which way is the nicest way to face?
When I do it, I'm like, "Right, OK, I'm sleeping here."
That's what I love about camping is you can...
One backpack and just sling everything in that you need
and away you go.
With the tents up, all that's left for us to do
is sample the mackerel we caught earlier.
Yeah, they're looking good.
The great thing about mackerel is you can't overcook it
-cos it's so oily...
..that it just keeps that body and keeps that kind of structure to it.
I've got some couscous. Some Moroccan couscous.
Shall I cook that up?
-Yeah. Well, it's in a packet, but it's...
-You've been keeping that quiet.
I wasn't giving my Moroccan couscous away on the first day, Dermot.
Shall I get the wine? Are the glasses and stuff up there?
Um, well, we'll be kind of busking it with the glasses.
I've got...I've got cups.
I haven't got any goblets, like... DERMOT LAUGHS
You ideally want to get to the place that you're camping
a couple of hours before sunset, so the fact that we're kind of at...
Let me see.
..20 to 11 at night
and we're settling down for dinner...you know, OK.
It would have been nicer if it was earlier.
You know, this is not everyone's cup of tea.
Well, everyone should come
-and experience something like this once in their lives...
..without a shadow of a doubt. It's just...it's a leveller.
Gets you back to nature.
There's kind of something just very raw and real about it,
and it's all the better for it.
-We've got a great country here, man.
-We should be very proud of it.
-..it is our country.
The referendum sorted that one out. THEY LAUGH
But, you know, it's a great time to be Scottish, I think.
My compliments. It's a terrific place to be from.
And we'll say slainte to that with some Chilean wine.
THEY LAUGH Cheers, Dermot.
Yeah, your wine industry needs a lot of work.
It's my final day with Dermot and we're heading back out to sea.
Without a doubt,
this is one of the most beautiful places I've ever camped.
See, that heartens me so much, the fact that I'm part of that
and, you know, that I've experienced that with you.
But before we leave Rum for good,
there's one more animal I'd like to show him here,
and it's one of Scotland's most iconic.
-..we can have a little wander and see...
I'd like to show you a stag. That would be kind of nice to see
because they'll have antlers at the moment.
Red deer are Britain's largest land mammal,
and there are around 900 of them on Rum.
Are they valuable to the ecosystem?
I mean, yeah, in the absence of a big predator,
deer do a lot of damage to the ecosystem.
So, if you think, you know, somewhere like Rum,
there's very few trees
and that's because deer will browse and nibble
kind of any little tree that pops up above the grass or the heather.
So, you know, if deer weren't here,
this place would sort of look very different over time.
Then, just as we're packing up...
Oh, Dermot. Look.
-Have you got your binoculars?
Oh, look at you.
That saved us a walk up the glen. DERMOT LAUGHS
For over 60 years,
researchers have been studying the deer population on the island.
It's why this stag is collared.
He's a beaut.
You see, he's still got the velvet on his antlers.
Yeah. What does that tell you?
They lose their antlers after the rut
and they start growing again.
The rut is mating season when stags compete with each other for females.
So, the antler itself is covered in velvet.
And inside that velvet, it's just kind of full of blood vessels.
And they grow at an amazing rate.
If you look at a deer at the end of the summer,
it's got this really impressive, big kind of rack of antlers.
This time of year,
a stag like that is just going to feed and feed and feed and feed.
Now, we could watch him for half an hour
-and he will hardly lift his head...
..because what he's doing at the moment
is just trying to put on as much weight
while you've got good grazing
just so that when he gets to the rut - sort of into October -
that he is as strong and as healthy as possible.
And then they work out who's in charge?
The dynamic of that moves all the time.
So, one day, you might have a stag like this fella that's sort of...
You know, maybe he has a couple of big fights one day...
-..and come the next day, he's thinking,
"OK, I've got kind of 12 hinds here. I'm happy."
And then over the hill comes some, you know, handsome...
THEY LAUGH ..handsome fella
and he might not be...he might think,
-"OK, I'm going to chase him off."
"He might just see me,
"look at the size of me, look at my antlers."
And they run about and they bellow,
so during the rut, it's like this visual feast,
but you can hear stags bellowing through the glens.
They're just basically shouting out to other stags,
"I'm here. I'm sort of up for it."
-He is a beaut, isn't he?
If we got close to him, is there any chance he would charge us or...?
At this time of year, no,
but during the rut, when he's all kind of pumped up...
-..yeah, you wouldn't want to get too close to a...
..to a red deer.
And do the females find a large antler attractive?
-So, a big, strong male -
that's who they'll want to mate with.
The calves are born in the summer.
Most of them will die in the winter.
-Would those carcasses support...?
Well, if you didn't have the deer here
and if deer didn't perish in the winter,
the golden eagles, the buzzards, the ravens, the sea eagles,
you know, would suffer,
so it's all part of this, you know, kind of big,
ecological jigsaw puzzle, that all those bits fit together.
It all makes sense.
-(Look how close we are.)
-I know. This is great.
-Off he goes.
-That was terrific.
-That was great.
I mean, he was literally on our doorstep there.
I kind of do like wildlife that comes to you.
-It's like the greatest wildlife takeaway of all time.
Hello, can I order a red deer, please, for delivery for 9.30?
If we can serve you up a basking shark
before the end of the day, that would be...
I think we could all go home happy.
I don't really want to leave Rum, in many ways.
You could spend days and days just exploring this stretch of coastline,
but, you know, it's Dermot's last day.
I would love to be able to show him a basking shark
and I think the only way we have of doing that
is getting out to sea and start looking.
But that kind of in itself comes with...there's risks
because the wind's picking up,
so it's not kind of ideal conditions.
Basking sharks feed on plankton
and in the summer months, plankton blooms close to the shore.
I've often seen them round here and I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
There's a couple of strategies with finding basking sharks.
You can just motor around looking for them,
but I think, with the conditions today,
it's so choppy, you know, that's going to be tough.
And the other thing is to ask around.
One of the best ways of finding wildlife at sea
is by asking fishermen or local tour guides.
Otherwise, it's like looking for a needle in a very large haystack.
Have you been out today at all?
OK. And you didn't happen to see any basking sharks?
Oh, cool. OK.
Righty-ho. I owe you. Cheers. Yeah, bye. See you soon. Bye.
One basking shark spotted off the Cairns of Coll this morning,
but then lots...
I didn't ask him to define what lots were.
..just off of Mull.
The good thing about basking sharks is that
if they find a good area with lots of plankton, they will hang around.
The world's second largest fish are very impressive.
Lots of them is even more impressive.
How long do you reckon it's going to take us if we went straight to Mull?
-Kind of north end of Mull?
-Probably about 15 minutes from here.
Great. I think, as a plan, just heading straight there...
We change course and sail south.
We're going completely off plan,
but if we see one, it will be worth it.
Definitely, this does feel like last chance saloon.
You know, Dermot has had a great time.
If I do manage to find some basking sharks for him,
his enthusiasm is going to go off the scale.
I'm from Mull, so this is home territory for me.
I've got a good feeling about this.
There's a very good chance that it will just be beneath the surface,
-so just keep your eyes peeled.
-So, they don't go...?
HE GASPS There. Right there. Look at that.
Look at that.
-They're so slow.
-Second largest fish on the planet.
They are absolutely enormous. Only whale sharks are larger.
-And they don't mind the fact we're here? They don't...?
-They're just...they're feeding. Do you want to grab them?
They're just feeding on plankton.
-Are they aware of us?
-They'll be aware of us.
See, he's turned, so he's coming straight towards us now.
Oh, brilliant. Look at that. So...
-..you can see his dorsal fin...
..and the tail fin,
and when they're really kind of feeding
and that big mouth is kind of gaping wide open,
you'll see their snout, the tip of their nose.
So, you'll see three parts of this enormous fish
-breaking the water at the same time.
-Any idea how long that one would be?
Easily 6m long.
Now basking sharks are a protected species,
but they were fished commercially right up until the mid-1990s.
They were hunted for their fins, their meat,
-but most importantly, their liver.
-For the oil?
-Yeah, for the oil.
-And it was used as a kind of industrial lubricant.
-Oh, my God.
-He's so close to us.
-Look, he's right there.
-Look at that. Look at that.
DERMOT LAUGHS Belter.
-Look at him.
-There's definitely a majesty to it.
But it's also just quite...
-It's very docile.
-Yeah. They're just quietly feeding.
You know, just that big, huge animal is filtering...
-Just getting on with its life.
-..gallons and gallons of water...
-Oh, man, look how close it is.
Oh, my goodness. Look at that. Look at that.
Amazing. Do you see the tail fin there?
Lovely, the way that the sun's just kind of glinting off of its fin.
The way the tail fin goes,
it's almost like they're two different fish that are far apart.
It is intimidating, I think, having such a huge fish
with such an enormous mouth, that you look at it and you think,
-"I could fit in there easily."
-Yeah. Could you?
Oh, yeah, you really could.
That basking shark will be filtering
two and a half million litres of water every single hour.
It blows me away that such an enormous animal
thrives on these kind of microscopic life forms.
And that's the same with so many of those big, ocean-going,
you know, proper migratory beasts, whether it's whales or fish.
You know, they eat such tiny, minute things for the size they are.
It's almost like they shouldn't really work.
Oh, Gordy, I tell you - you promise and you deliver, my friend.
Well, I don't think I quite promised,
-but I do think I delivered.
-Tell you what,
-you allude and then you deliver.
Well, it's a risky carrot to dangle in front of a man who loves fish,
is that, "OK, I would really like to show you a basking shark."
Yeah, but for the last couple of days, you've said...
When we sat down, you said, "Look, chances are,
"if the gods are in our favour - otter, eagle, basking shark, whale."
That's three out of four, man.
That was incredible.
I really had wanted to show Dermot a basking shark.
You know, more than ever, with sea creatures, it's about luck
cos you've got to be at the right place at the right time
and looking at that little spot at the right time.
-That's what makes it more rewarding, I suppose.
But these are such rich waters, you never know what you might see.
Oh, wow. Holy Moley!
Oh, look, look, look, look.
Oh, look at this. DERMOT LAUGHS
These are common dolphins,
drawn to the waters off the Hebrides by the abundant food supply.
-So, Dermot, you wanted to know who eats the mackerel.
-These are the mackerel eaters.
Mackerel, herring, they'll eat squid.
Look at this. Oh!
Oh, beautiful. HE LAUGHS
They're inquisitive and social animals
and fast swimmers, capable of speeds of up to 25mph.
It's the kind of thing you'd see, like, on television.
And they're everywhere as well.
They must know we've got cameras cos they're playing around with us.
Oh, look. Wow. HE LAUGHS
That was...that's spectacular, isn't it?
Is that just for fun?
That is just for fun. No other reason.
It's just awe-inspiring. It really is.
They're such beautiful creatures.
You can't help but just adore them when you're this close to them,
and admire them. They're just so fast, so sleek.
Everything about them.
-That's not something you could ever, ever tire of.
Oh, look at them.
-We love you too!
-Maybe count 20, 30 there.
-It's so rare to see an animal at play, right...
..that's not a juvenile?
But dolphins are kind of renowned for it.
And we can only guess at how intelligent these dolphins are.
You know, they're definitely the most intelligent sea creatures.
Orca, common dolphin, bottlenose dolphins -
all of them, they're immensely intelligent.
They just...they seem to love life.
That's what I kind of love about dolphins.
-This is my best encounter.
So, yeah, I'm having my best ever common dolphin experience.
We head back towards Skye,
but wildlife is nothing if not unpredictable.
It's another basking shark,
and this time, I want to show Dermot just how big its mouth really is.
If it's swimming on the surface, we could get suited up
-and see if we can get into the water with him.
-Let's do it.
I just saw the basking shark sort of coming straight towards the boat
with its mouth wide open.
You just saw this kind of funnel of white underneath the sea.
But you could see it crystal clear. It was beautiful.
Just going about its business.
You have to sort of consider that they're feeding,
so we don't want to interrupt their behaviour at all.
But the fact that they're feeding on the surface,
we might have a chance that we could sort of get into the water
and try and figure out where they're going
and let them come to us.
It's, um...it's that kind of moving the goalposts constantly.
It's, "I'd love to show Dermot a basking shark."
We see basking sharks.
"Well, can I show him one underwater?"
That's when you really do get, you know,
a sense of how enormous this fish is.
Let's not, um...
Let's not get split up.
-Yeah! Let's not get... You didn't need to say that.
Do they find yellow attractive?
I think they're so focused in on feeding at the moment,
I think, you know, it's about not interrupting them.
It's about just hopefully getting ourselves into position
-where they'll cruise by.
Even though it's summer,
the water is still going to be really cold.
And basking sharks aren't the only sea creature in the water.
This big stinging jellyfish has poisonous tentacles
that trail behind it in the water,
which probably explains why Dermot's keeping his hands
so close to his chest.
Basking sharks' mouths are over 1m wide -
big enough to swim into.
It is unbelievable.
The size. The size of them is just...beyond belief.
They look big when you're looking at them from the boat,
but when you're in the water with them, it's...it's staggering.
An underwater encounter with a basking shark
is a truly magical experience.
-Are you all right there?
-Fab. DERMOT LAUGHS
Very, very, very happy.
Another satisfied customer. DERMOT LAUGHS
That was something else.
And you've just got this incredible, prehistoric creature
who's sort of, um...
You know, kind of like you said, that's one of ours.
It belongs to these islands
-and it's given me an appreciation of what's on our doorstep.
And if you just make a bit of an effort, what you can see...
I count myself, you know, incredibly lucky
every time I see these things, to do the job that I do.
I could never be, you know, complacent about it.
It's a celebration of, you know, the world
and of the wild creatures that live here,
and I think that's sort of, you know, it kind of...
That's what makes my heart sing -
to see, you know, a creature like that.
Yesterday morning, when we boarded this boat,
I thought, "We are not going to see a single thing."
-I really was...
-Kept that to yourself.
Well, I didn't want to go,
"Tell you the truth, Dermot, I don't think this is worth it."
But, you know, nature's always got something up its sleeve
and you have to kind of roll with the punches
and make hay while the sun shines.
-And, you know, I think we have done that.
-Amen. There endeth the lesson.
What a lesson. Thank you, my friend.
Gordon and Dermot are in the stunning Western Isles of Scotland. They begin their trip on Skye on the lookout for seals and golden eagles. Dermot is keen to get close to seabirds so they canoe out to a shag colony, before heading to Rum to camp for the night.
An encounter with a magnificent stag at breakfast gets the day off to a good start, but the real challenge for Gordon is to find what Dermot is really keen to see - basking sharks. It is a tall order, and he only has two days left to find one - will he succeed?