The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has now touched remote Sùla Sgeir with the news that the ancient annual tradition of the Guga Hunt is being suspended  

There will be no guga available for meals in Ness this summer with the guga hunt reportedly cancelled for the first time in many years.

The crew of guga hunters are said to have made the decision not to make the trip to Sùla Sgeir, which would have departed next week for the annual harvest of 2,000 gannet chicks.

Although a licence to continue the hunt had been applied for, concerns about transmission of the virus among a group of men living in close proximity for 10 days appear to have swung the decision not to continue this year.

The skipper of the vessel which transports the team and their equipment, Foggy Macdonald of the Sheigra, said the decision would have been taken by the hunters themselves and had not been imposed on them.

He said: “You couldn’t get anywhere more isolated than Sùla Sgeir, but no-one knows what’s coming as far as this virus is concerned, and I only know that they are not going this year.”

It’s a blow both to tradition and to the tastebuds of Niseachs, for whom the annual landing and distribution of birds at Port of Ness is a huge event.

The picture shows hunters completing preparation of the birds at Port of Ness in August 2018 (Ali Finlayson).