Highlands & Islands

Famous orca photographed off Chanonry Point

Orca John Coe Image copyright Charlie Phillips
Image caption John Coe can be indentified by a notch on his dorsal fin

An orca has caused a stir appearing off a well-known dolphin spotting location on the Moray Firth.

The bull known to conservationists as John Coe can be identified by a notch on his dorsal fin and a missing chunk on his fluke, or tail fin.

He was photographed off Chanonry Point, near Fortrose on the Black Isle, by Whale and Dolphin Conservation field officer Charlie Phillips on Monday.

Mr Phillips said he had never seen an orca from the point before.

John Coe is more often seen off the Isle of Mull in the Inner Hebrides.

Last year, the orca was spotted from near Dingle in south west Ireland and then later off Anglesey in Wales.

Orcas have been seen in other parts of the Moray Firth including from the Caithness coast and from Findhorn in Moray.

The Moray Firth is famous for its population of bottlenose dolphins.

Shark bite

A photograph taken by Mr Phillips' of the orca is being shared on social media by dolphin watchers and other wildlife enthusiasts also hoping to spot the animal.

Further sightings of the orca were made from Fort George near Ardersier.

John Coe is one of eight orcas from a group known as the West Coast Community.

Image copyright Charlie Phillips/WDC
Image caption The Moray Firth is well-known for its bottlenose dolphins

A ninth member, Lulu, was found dead on the Isle of Tiree in 2016 after becoming entangled in fishing lines.

Tests later revealed her body contained among the highest levels of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, ever recorded.

The chemicals were banned from the 1970s but are still in the environment.

John Coe is believed to have had his own brush with death.

The injury to his fluke is thought to have been inflicted by a shark.

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