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22nd July, 2017


Yesterday I made reference to 'dead island'. Around 30 nautical miles into our inland archipelago passage from Stockholm to the pilot station, the Pilot pointed out the dead islands.

These are a small group of islands, small in themselves and nothing special until you realise that the trees are long dead, but still standing! Why?

The Cormorants use these islands, perching in the trees, to prepare for their fish hunt and to return to digest their catch. The Cormorant population exploded and the now significant number of birds catch and digest the local fish. At the end of the digestion process the result is, not surprisingly, a lot of guano! Over the years the trees have died leaving them standing coated in white - seemingly protected from the elements.

Now comes the 'circle of life' bit...........

Sea Eagles were known to be in the area feeding on fish, small mammals and carrion. The Eagles preference is fish, but they take the carrion in the lean winter months. The Sea Eagles also adopt an easy approach to fishing and that is akin to being a pirate, taking food from other animals whose diet is fish - including that of Osprey.

With the proliferation of Cormorants catching the fish in the area, the Sea Eagles honed-in on this bountiful food supply, thus allowing the Sea Eagle population to flourish. However, in the lean winter months, when the 'fishing' is not so good, the Eagles turn their attention to the Cormorants, which become the prey of the Sea-Eagle. The Eagles then flourish further and become the control on the Cormorant population. The 'zoomed-in' picture is that of a Sea Eagle waiting to 'pirate' the next meal.

With the archipelago behind us in the warm evening sunlight, we disembarked the Swedish Pilot at 2300 and made our short east-bound passage toward the Finnish coastal waters. Embarking the Finnish pilot at 0330, we then continued on NE'ly bound headings through the Finnish archipelago toward our berth in Turku. Perhaps this cruise should have been called the 'Archipelago Odyssey'!

With yet another beautiful sunrise, shards of light emanating from behind the islands, we approached our berth in Turku and were 'all-fast' for 1030 - ahead of schedule, and for a reason - 'The Tall Ships'. It’s going to be an exciting two days in Turku and we are working feverishly to give our passengers a 'once in a lifetime' experience. More tomorrow.

Captain Stuart Horne

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.