Glasgow & West Scotland

'Rise' in humpback whale sightings off western Scotland

Humpback whale Image copyright HWDT
Image caption Humpback whales were once hunted to the brink of extinction off the coast of Scotland

An adult humpback whale has been spotted off western Scotland for a fifth time in a month, compared with the usual total of just one or two per year.

The latest sighting, in the Firth of Clyde, is believed to be of a mammal more than 39ft (12m) long.

It was seen off Tighnabruaich in the Kyles of Bute on Monday.

The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT) said reports of sightings have increased in recent years.

The organisation said it was unclear whether that was a result of an increase in population size or more vigilant reporting from members of the public.

Humpback whales were once hunted to the brink of extinction in Scottish waters.

Image copyright HWDT
Image caption It is not clear whether there are more humpback whales in Scottish waters or more people are reporting sightings

Dr Conor Ryan from the HWDT said: "Usually we expect just one or two sightings of humpback whales per year, so to have five in a month is very encouraging and exciting.

"Although humpbacks can put on a spectacular show and are humbling to watch, we appeal to people not to stress the whale by approaching in boats.

"This individual is not in its typical environment and may be lost in the sea loch. Besides, there are strict laws in place to protect this species from harassment".

Karl Hurd of British Divers Marine Life Rescue said: "At the moment, the whale is swimming freely with no signs of distress or entanglement.

"Hopefully it will make it's own way back to deeper water and come to no harm."

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