Today started quite quietly with no sightings until 10:20am. This was reported to be one harbour porpoise heading north east from Sarclet. Following our first report, there were three separate minke whale sightings at Duncansby Stacks at 12:23, Auckengall at 12:35 and Wick Harbour at 13:29.
Shortly after this, the excitement kicked off when one volunteer observer caught a large blow from the north side of Wick bay, moving north at 13:45! This was confirmed to be a humpback whale blow by an experienced observer and was successfully tracked up the coast until it was spotted at Duncansby Head at 15:33. The humpback was travelling fast and only surfacing at around 20 minute intervals making it difficult to track – but it proved no match for seasoned observers!
There was a large crowd watching the humpback, which extended from Duncansby Head to Duncansby Stacks, and the mood was high as everyone was elated to catch such a rare sighting! One of the aims of Orca Watch is to ignite a passion for marine conservation by facilitating these amazing moments so this was so wonderful for our organisers to witness!
Sightings continued with risso’s dolphins spotted heading west from Scrabster at 15:59. More risso’s were seen breaching later at Holborn Head at 16:15. On the last John O’Groats ferry trip at 16:55 passengers were treated to sightings of the humpback whale. The humpback returned at 17:47 alongside one (possibly two) fin whales! Blows were visible from Duncansby Head and Burwick and Orkney. Another great evening from the mainland!
The weather in John O’Groats was fair for most of the day. Winds were higher than yesterday but the light cloud cover prevented glare making for good spotting conditions. A mist (called haar here in Scotland) descended at Duncansby Head at infrequent intervals during the day but it was too far out to seriously hinder sightings.
Mainland: Highs of 16, lows of 8. Sunny intervals changing to overcast later in the day. Wind 11-18 from the north west. Sea state 3.
Orkney: Highs of 11, lows of 9. Overcast all day. Wind 11-16 north, north-west. Sea state 3.
Shetland: Highs of 11, lows of 9. Overcast all day. Wind 11-16 north, north-west. Sea state 3.
Juliety Maxted/ Orca Watch Communications Manager