Rare Humpback whale sighted in UK waters

Cornwall: Humpback whale spotted in Mount's Bay

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A photo has captured the breathtaking sight of what is believed to be a humpback whale, breaching the water near West Cornwall’s iconic St Michael’s Mount.

The picture comes less than a month after another sighting, where video footage captured another whale breaching in Mount’s Bay. 

The National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) said there have been “several rare sightings of humpback whales along the Cornish coast” this month – including a sighting near Penzance.

The charity – which has almost 60 lookout stations across the UK, all manned by volunteers – aims to help save lives by putting eyes and ears along the coast. As well as keeping lookout, NCI watchkeepers monitor radio channels and provide a listening watch in poor visibility, reports CornwallLive.

Station Manager Dave Stevens was on watch in an NCI station at Penzance when his team spotted the magnificent mammal breaching the surface off the coast – and they turned to their web camera to get a better view.

“You don’t see humpback whales very often and I’ve never actually seen one in Cornwall before, so we weren’t sure what it was at first,” Dave said. “If it was an Orca, we would have been able to tell what it was straight away because it’s very distinguishable but to us, we don’t see humpbacks very often, so it just looked like another whale.”

“We have a chart at the station but it’s still difficult to tell the difference. But after we posted the video on Facebook, we got lots of comments saying it was a humpback, so that’s what I assume it was.

“It was in the bay for around five minutes. It was quite the sight to see.”

Marine conservation officer at Cornwall Wildlife Trust, Abby Crosby, added: “We were incredibly excited to hear this news. Only in the last few years have humpback whale sightings really shot up. Before then, it would’ve been extremely rare to spot one around the UK.

“People may not realise how incredible our seas are, even in the winter months. It’s magnificent to see these creatures up close. But as always, we’d like to encourage people to put wildlife first, be respectful and keep their distance, should they be so lucky as to have an encounter with one of these amazing creatures.”

Over the weekend, NCI volunteers at the Rame Head lookout station in South East Cornwall, near Plymouth Sound, observed at least four whales plus a dolphins about, one mile off the headland.

While the NCI volunteers in Cornwall got to witness wonderful whales, their colleagues in Hampshire keeping an eye on The Solent and Southampton Water were wowed by a wandering walrus.

In a Facebook post detailing the whale watching in Mount’s Bay, a spokesperson for NCI said: “A few days later there was a sighting of another unusual creature. 

“Upon opening the station for the morning watch the watchkeepers at NCI Calshot Tower were surprised to see that a walrus had joined the fishermen on Calshot Beach.

“Soon crowds began to gather and the area was cordoned off by HM Coastguard and the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) for the safety of the public and to minimise disturbance of the resting walrus.

“While it is unusual for walrus to venture this far from the Arctic, they are known vagrants and will travel for many miles in search of food. The Calshot Walrus was identified by the BDMLR as ‘Thor”, a walrus known to have visited the Netherlands, Dieppe and Brittany in recent weeks.

“After spending the morning snoozing, Thor departed Calshot beach around mid-day.”

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