Episode 41 (Season 4): Creature of the Sea
Wonderful, immersive, so moving. Brought a tear to my eye.The poem ‘Hope’ was commended at the Climate Creatives Challenge #02.
Let me take you to the dazzling underwater world of the Argyll Hope Spot – a poetic journey to the west coast of Scotland.
‘Creature of the Sea’ is a collection of stories and poems inspired by my time at the Snorkelling Artist Residency hosted by the Argyll Hope Spot. Me and a group of 10 other artists were able to explore the abundant underwater world of this stretch of coastline and learn to draw underwater. Our snorkel explorations were guided by local experts, experienced swimmers and wildlife artists and weaved together lessons of creativity, biology and water safety.
The result of my time at the Argyll Hope Spot is a little different than my usual storytelling. We’re staying firmly underwater for the duration of my story which is broken up into short pieces of poems and prose, separate, but all connected by the sounds weaving through the narrative.
The music you’ll hear alongside my words was composed by Jen Austin, an artist and musician from Orkney, who also participated in the artist residency. In fact, some of my texts started developing as I listened to Jen working on melodies inspired by our swims.
After the story, I’ll tell you some of my top tips for visiting the Argyll Hope Spot, snorkelling and swimming on the west coast, and how to learn more about the marine ecosystem of Scotland.
Are you ready? Great – let’s travel to Scotland!
The Snorkelling Artist Residency Participants
Melanie Chmielewska, sculptor
Nils Aksnes, photographer: Instagram: @nils_aksnes
Paul Henery, wildlife and landscape artist: Instagram: @paulwjhenery
Rosie Newman, social practice artist: website
Sarah Edwards, tattoo artist: Instagram: @sacredspiraltattoo
Susannah MacMillan, landscape artist
Use my Scotland snorkelling guide to find great places to snorkel in Scotland and many tips for beginners.
Join our email list for weekly glimpses behind the scenes and links to additional resources.
Written and hosted by Kathi Kamleitner.
Produced, edited and sound design by Fran Turauskis.
Transcripts and social media by Kirsty Spain.
Cover Art illustrated by Lizzie Vaughan-Knight.
All original music composed by Bruce Wallace.
Additional music by Jennifer Austin.
My Travel Tips for the Argyll Hope Spot
Use my guide to snorkelling in Scotland
If you are keen to try snorkelling in Scotland, check out my snorkelling guide on Watch Me See. It contains a few reasons for why I think you should try it, tips for how to find the best locations to go, links to resources and a few safety tips for cold water swimming.
Check out the Snorkel Trail for Argyll
The Above & Below snorkel trail is full of suggestions for great places to explore the underwater world of the Argyll Hope Spot and neighbouring waters along the coast. It was developed in partnership with the Scottish Wildlife Trust and features sites that are interesting and relatively easy to access.
The Wildlife Trust has also put together a few other snorkel trails around Scotland, including the Isle of Arran, the Isle of Harris and the East Lothian coast.
Take a swimming lesson, especially if you’re new to cold water immersion
Now, I knew how to swim before I started snorkelling in Scotland, but managing your breathing, movements and energy levels in the cold water of the west coast is quite a different story than splashing around in a pool.
If you’re visiting the Argyll coast, I recommend booking a swim session with open water swim coach Dan the Merman. He can teach you everything you need to know to stay safe in the sea and enjoy snorkelling and swimming to the fullest. My sessions with him really changed the way I relate to cold water and his guidance during the residency was invaluable.
Try rock pooling as an accessible alternative
I know not everybody is keen to throw themselves in the cold Scottish water for a swim or a snorkel. Luckily, there’s a great alternative you can do while staying dry – and that’s rock pooling.
Everyday when the tide recedes, the water leaves behind small pools among the rocks and many animals stay in these to wait for the next tide to come in. A great opportunity to get up close with wildlife that is normally far away from the shore.
The best time to go rock pooling is at low tide, and you’ll want to find a beach with rocks.
In Argyll, the Heart of Argyll Wildlife Organisation puts on regular seashore safaris that are led by experts. These events happen in summer only and I’ll pop the link in the show notes.
Visit local organisations to learn more
The Argyll Hope Spot itself doesn’t have a visitor centre (although they have a website), but there are many places around the area where you can learn more about our oceans and their inhabitants. One such place is the Ocean Explorer Centre near Oban which I’ve mentioned in the story ‘Never the same’ in Season 3.
Another great place to visit is the aquarium on Mull. They are a catch and release aquarium which means that every creature on display is returned to the sea within 4 weeks.
If you’d like to connect with the Argyll Hope Spot follow them on social media @argyllhopespot.