On Thursday 2nd September, a humpback whale was spotted off Whitby by Sea Watch Trustee and Regional Coordinator, Robin Petch. During the six hour survey, a number of minke whales were also seen. Minke whales have been spotted in the area most days for the past few weeks. There have been possible sightings of this animal in the previous weeks by crew of Whitby Coastal Cruises. However, until the 2nd these had not been confirmed. The humpback whale was re-sighted by Robin Petch and Kris Simpson on the 4th during another survey. The observers were lucky enough to come across a very large shoal of herring, over a quarter of a mile in diameter. Here they encountered five minke whales and the humpback which came very close to the boat. Observers managed to photograph the tail fluke in the hope that we can identify this individual. The humpback whale has since been re-sighted on the 11th September in addition to a number of minke whales.
Humpback whales migrate thousands of kilometres, breeding in equatorial waters and feeding near the poles, particularly around Iceland. This species is being seen increasingly in British coastal waters and there has been the occasional sighting in this region in past years. Last year two humpback whales were recorded off the Farne’s Islands.