Sunday, 24 February 2013

A pod of five sperm whales sighted inshore off North West Scotland


Giants of the sea enjoy Scotland's warming waters
Two sperm whales dive in unison 
off the coast of Scotland. 
Photo credit Nick Davies.
February 2013. An extraordinary winter sighting of five Sperm whales off the coast of North West Scotland this week could be a reflection of climate change and warming sea temperatures, says a leading marine scientist.

The Sperm whales - one of the true giants of the oceans - were first seen by creel fishermen between Loch Torridon and South Rona on Monday. They initially thought they were Humpback whales and alerted boat operator Nick Davies from Hebridean Whale Cruises, based at Gairloch, who is involved in a project collecting cetacean (whale, dolphin and porpoise) data for Sea Watch.
 
First sighting
He went out to the location, and when he arrived was astonished to recognise Sperm whales diving together for food - the first time he has ever seen them.

Dr Peter Evans, director of marine conservation research charity Sea Watch, was able to confirm the sighting from his photographs and says: " In past decades, most records of Sperm whales in British waters have been of lone adult males around Scotland mainly off the Northern Isles and the Hebrides. Increasingly, however, adolescent males have occurred in our waters, sometimes in groups of 5-10 individuals.

Inshore
"Sightings of groups of Sperm whales have tended to occur mainly in summer so this winter sighting of a group is notable not just for the time of year but for its inshore location. The species normally lives in waters of 1,000 metres or more depth, beyond the continental shelf edge. Here they have sought out the deepest area of NW Scotland - the Inner Sound."


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