'Unusual and enigmatic' long-finned pilot whales spotted off Welsh coast

Long-finned pilot whales Image copyright Mick Baines/ Sea Watch Foundation
Image caption Long-finned pilot whales, similar to these, have been spotted

People have been urged to keep an eye out for "unusual and enigmatic" whales off the Welsh coast after scientists were told about a number of sightings.

Long-finned pilot whales typically live in large groups in deep waters beyond the edge of the continental shelf in the Atlantic.

But they occasionally come closer to the British Isles for food.

Research charity Sea Watch Foundation said there had been four sightings in a week - "a very unusual occurrence".

  • The first sighting of a group of five pilot whales was made on Wednesday, 17 August in the central Irish Sea, 47 miles out from Aberdyfi in Gwynedd
  • The second report was off Eynon Point, Swansea, on Sunday, 21 August, when a single animal was reported
  • A third sighting was also reported on the Sunday off New Quay in Ceredigion
  • The final sighting was on Tuesday, 23 August between Southerndown and Ogmore-by-Sea in the Vale of Glamorgan when eight whales were seen by a Sea Watch volunteer.

Kathy James, sightings officer for Sea Watch Foundation, said: "We'd love people to get out there to look for these enigmatic whales and report any sightings to us."

Dr Peter Evans, director of the research charity, said pilot whales typically live in large groups and feed on oceanic squid or shoaling fish.

"It is likely that an abundance of a particular prey species brought them into Welsh coastal waters on this occasion," he added.

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