A swimmer on a charity relay was joined by an unexpected team mate in the form of a giant whale.
Saul Hindson is captaining a team of eight swimmers on a 48-hour relay between Ullapool and Stornoway.
Mr Hindson, who is raising money for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, came face to face with the marine mammal during his leg of the relay on Tuesday morning.
He told STV News: “It was the middle of the night. I started my stretch at 3.45am and about 40 minutes in, it appeared.
“The swimmer is always accompanied by a kayak for safety reasons and the guy in the kayak shouted to me: ‘It’s huge’. I asked him, ‘What’s huge?’ He said: ‘That'.
“I looked up and five feet in front of me was a giant whale. I don’t know what kind of whale it was but it was very, very large.”
Stornoway is popular with whale-watchers hoping to catch a glimpse of those mammals which are common in the area, including pilot whales which can grow to 7.2m in length.
The captain, whose team has already raised £7500 for the lifeboat charity, said he was "almost walking on water" when he caught a glimpse of the mammal.
He added: “I’d been swimming for 12 hours and I was starting to feel pretty tired but, believe me, I was quick off the mark in getting back in the kayak.
“I’ve seen a lot of things in my time but my heart nearly stopped when I saw this huge thing in front of me.”
The swim along the body of water known as The Minch coincides with the 125th anniversary of the Stornoway lifeboat.
Mr Hindson expects the team to complete their swim by 10pm on Tuesday.
Their fundraising page is at http://www.justgiving.com/thebigminchswim.
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