Barra, Vatersay and Mingulay are three of the southernmost islands of the Outer Herbrides and their shared history is one of survival by moving with the times. In 1912 the last inhabitants of Mingulay left the island for Barra after the turbulent seas had claimed a boat full of the fishermen who the island relied upon. Today Mingulay's waters are back in discussion as it has become a proposed area of conservation due to ancient corals which lie beneath. The islanders of Barra fear that this conservation zone will make it harder for them to make their living from fishing these waters but Scottish Natural Heritage feel the risks to the coral are too high to let activities go on unchecked. The debate is a heated one but as Helen Mark discovers it is part of a long history of independence from interference from the mainland, a unique past which makes the island stronger today than it perhaps ever has been.