Friday, 19 June 2015

Record number of humpbacks spotted around UK

Record numbers of humpback whales are being spotted around the UK’s coast by wildlife enthusiasts and members of the public, the Sea Watch Foundation have reported. 

Reports, photographs and videos of humpbacks have been flooding in to researchers at the Sea Watch Foundation. The latest in a recent spate of humpback whale sightings took place just off one of the UK’s largest cities, Liverpool.

Local boat worker, Lee Sparks, filmed the distinctive pectoral fin slapping of a humpback as he helped guide large boats in and out of the world famous port. Mr Sparks sent in his video to Sea Watch Foundation. Sea Watch Foundation monitors whales, dolphins and porpoises (cetaceans) all over the UK. Having been set up over forty years ago, Sea Watch operates one of the first ‘citizen science’ schemes in the world, utilising cetacean sightings from the public to inform policy on how best to conserve these species given all the changes happening around our coasts. 

“Sightings of both harbour porpoise and bottlenose dolphins seem to have increased in Liverpool Bay in the last few years, corresponding perhaps to an improvement in water quality as well as increased effort with more dedicated watches and surveys being conducted by our Regional Coordinators and local volunteers, but no one was expecting a humpback whale,” said Katrin Lohrengel, Monitoring Officer for Sea Watch.

“In fact, this may well be the first sighting of a humpback whale in Liverpool Bay on record but we will be delving into our records and historical archives to confirm! Either way this is a very exciting sighting.”

Other recent humpback whale sightings this year include one off Aberdeen on 18th May, one off the Cornish coast on 28th May and another animal in the Sound of Raasay between Rona and Skye in the Hebrides, north-west of Scotland on 7th June.

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