Off to work

Sunset Muckle RoeBusta Voe

Monday we spent sitting at Aberdeen Airport, waiting for fog in Shetland to clear. Low tide came and went and we weren’t there to see it. On Tuesday I was complaining that there must be an easier way to earn  a living as I slipped and slithered over seaweed covered rocks. I now have a fine collection of bruises in lurid colours. By Thursday it seemed that there must be far worse ways of spending the working day. Up at four and out on the shore by five on a beautiful still, sunny morning. The sun lasted all day to give a spectacular sunset and the midges stayed away. These are the mellow days that last in the memory longer than the miserable ones. But then we were back to fog. Calm, glassy calm, water blanketed with grey claggy mist. Still, we got out there, morning and evening tides, found our transect sites, counted barnacles and seaweeds, measured dog whelks. It’s an exciting life being a marine biologist!

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On Sunday we had rain and wind and there’s really no better way to spend a gloomy Sunday evening than togging up in oilskins and wellies and searching for dog whelks in the rain. That’s all very well but repeating the performance at 6am the next morning is a different matter altogether. Still. the sun came out in the afternoon to cheer us up and by mid afternoon the sea was mirror like again. More fog. And more. This morning we couldn’t see across the loch but, on the promise that it would clear, we ventured out in the boat into Yell Sound, eyes glued to the GPS. The water was so glassy that the tysties and puffins were reflected in the water and created trails as they swam. Now we just have three sites left to visit and we have our fingers crossed that the fog lifts long enough for us to fly home on Thursday.

Fog rolling in

The downside of intertidal work in Shetland, apart from the midges, is that low spring tide is early in the morning and, this being Shetland, there’s plenty of light. After several 4 am starts, 6 am suddenly seems like a lie in. One of the upsides is that we get some time off in the middle of the day so I’ve been swimming in the little bay outside our guest house on Muckle Roe a couple of times, and I’ve run/walked to the north side of the island and back.  I’ve been logging my swims and run routes for some time on WalkJogRun so if you fancy a look you can see where I’ve been. A swim on my own along the three beaches felt like real wild swimming with clear water, no one about and caves to explore. This summer I’ve swum on East Lothian beaches, Portobello, the reservoir at Threipmuir in the Pentlands, Orkney and now Shetland. So much fun!

Going swimming


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