You need to ride a ferry for an hour to get from Scotland’s west coast to this beautiful island. The mountains here are ancient volcanoes (extinct now, whew!), like many parts of the Scottish Highlands. You can see volcanic peaks in the interior.. we only had a few hours to visit, they might make a great hike another time. We did hike through a forested path next to a waterfall. The coast is quite beautiful. There is a nearby island called Holy Isle where mystical people have spent time for centuries.
The coast region, like much of Scotland’s coast, supports a tough, pink algae called maerl. This unique ecosystem actually resembles tropical coral reefs; like them, it supports a wide range of fish and marine invertebrates. Some people who harvest scallops and other critters for food use dredgers, which destroy the maerl and the habitat it creates. We talked with people from a group called COAST that recently won an Goldman environmental prize. for the one square mile no take zone they established between the town of Lamlast and Holy Isle. Fishing and dredging are prohibited here so the maerl community can return to health.
COAST also collaborates with the Scottish government to establish a marine protected area on the Island’s southern coast. Sustainable fishing and gathering will occur here once the guidelines are established – there is disagreement over the details now. The group works with Scottish groups that want to protect other parts of the coast, and with similar organizations in China and other countries. People who harvest krill (shrimplike invertebrates) and many others who work sustainably in the maerl ecosystem support COAST’s work. They also educate children, and work to make Arran a green tourist destination. They give me hope! I plan to write an article that will share more details.
The first photo shows Holy Isle… the no take zone lies between the town of Lamlast and here. The second shot shows Lamlast. The third shows the forest and waterfall we saw, and the fourth is a shot of the higher interior peals.