NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Killer whales surface inches from shore in Shetland

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Media captionKiller whales filmed on mobile phone in Shetland

A group of orcas stunned whale watchers after surfacing just inches from the shore.

The killer whales were captured on mobile phone footage off the Shetland coast.

Diver and photographer Richard Shucksmith filmed the pod as they entered a small gully three miles north of Lerwick.

"It's the best orca sighting I've ever experienced," said Mr Shucksmith. "A big bull killer whale a metre away."

"I can only imagine they were hunting seals or fish, trying to flush something out.

"They came right in to the shoreline. They stopped in the gully for half an hour."

Image copyright Richard Shucksmith

Mr Shucksmith operates nature photography tours in Shetland, but it was pure chance that the orcas surfaced at his location.

He had been diving on a separate photography project when the whales appeared on Monday afternoon.

"I grabbed my camera, but I only had my big lenses. They were so close I needed a wide angle lens, but that was in the car.

"My mobile phone was the only way I could film them."

Mr Shucksmith watched the orcas with a local family. He estimates there were about seven whales in the group.

The community runs a 'Shetland Orca Sighting' group on WhatsApp to share sightings around the islands.