Arran's coast gives the chance to see a lot of Marine life both on and off shore. The variety of beaches from sandy to very rocky, gives ample chances to spend some time beach combing and investigating the rock pools at low tide. Hermit crabs, Starfish, Anenomes, Sea slugs and crabs can all be found on the beaches, whilst Arran's waters give the chance to see seals, dolphins, porpoises, whales and basking sharks Atlantic Grey Seal
The grey seals reach 5 - 7ft(1.6m-2.3m) eat fish and squid and can live to 35 years. Low tide is the best time to watch seals. Large groups can usually be spotted in Kildonan, Lochranza and Brodick near the castle entrance.
The common seal is smaller, growing to 5ft(1.4m) They eat fish, molluscs and crustaceans and can live to 20-30 years.
Both species vary widely in colouration from grey to brown but the grey usually has larger blotches of darker colours compared to the finer spots of colour on the common. The best way to distinguish between them is the shape of their heads abd noting the nostrils of the common form a distinctive v-shape.
The porpoise is the smallest and most commonly seen. They grow to 4-6ft(1.3-1.8m), feed on fish and crustaceans and spend most of their time in groups. Porpoises swim well offshore but their presence is noted by the sight of their black rounded backs topped by a very small dorsal fin breaking the waters surface. Careful scanning of the water through binoculars on a calm day often provides a glimpse.
One of the most memorable wildlife experiences is the sight of Bottle- nosed Dolphins cutting through the water, with some launching themselves into the air. The sight is breathtaking and they can come very close to shore, giving the chance to hear them blowing air as they breathe. They grow to 8-12ft(2.5-3.5m) Their dorsal fin is larger and more distinctive than the porpoise.
Whales are rarley seen. Their sheer size marks them out. Minke whales at up to 11 m are the most usual visitors to the Clyde area.
More info go to the Marine Conservancy society website www.mcsuk.org