Underwater magic for snorkelling students in Ullapool

All smiles from Freya Buckthorpe
A third group of Highland children completed their ‘Dolphin Snorkeller’ course in Ullapool last week.
The course is a series of seven lessons put together by the British Sub Aqua Club. The Scottish Wildlife Trust and Ullapool Leisure Centre have been working together to deliver the training to local children, ensuring that they gain an introduction to how to snorkel safely.
In January two groups of children did their training in the pool. This time around, trainees attended four days of pool lessons before Highlife Highland staff, Living Seas Officer Noel Hawkins and locally trained snorkel instructors took the kids into the sea by the village jetty. The children were put into ‘buddy’ pairs and taken out to ensure their kit worked and they felt safe, then taught how to enter and exit the sea.
Mr Hawkins said: “Getting local kids into the sea and seeing the marine life and habitat off our shores is a great way of introducing them to their local environment whilst having fun. Of course, going into the sea raises certain risks and safety issues. By training in the pool first we can ensure that the kids have an awareness of what to do and how to stay safe, watch out for each other and enjoy their experience in the sea.”
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The project recently received a grant from Tesco Ullapool’s ‘Bags of Help’ award following a vote by the public and is in the process of buying wetsuits and accessories to take further groups into the water. The trust recently launched a ‘Snorkel Trail’ on the coast between Gairloch and Clachtoll that has been attracting attention from visitors and locals alike. The new trail and some of the children taking part in training are due to be featured in the BBC One’s ‘Countryfile Summer Diaries’ later in August.
A second trail was recently launched on the Isle of Harris in conjunction with the North Harris Trust and talks are underway on potential plans to expand the scheme further afield around the coast of Scotland.