Chris Jackson, skipper of the SWF Recommended Boat Operator MV Chalice, was the first to report the sighting of a sperm whale in Oban harbour Sunday 31st March. Chris sent this report along with some extraordinary photos.
There was much excitement yesterday when a whale spent the day IN Oban harbour. It’s very rare to see any sort of whale east of Tobermory, and usually the main sightings are of Minke.
We received a phone call around 1330 to say that there was ‘something’ in the harbour, so quickly set off to have a look. There were quite a few people lining the Esplanade watching from the shore, but apart from one seal-trip boat which had a passing interest (and the occasional ferry) we were the only ones who hung around and watched what was happening. At around 1530, Stornoway coastguard issues a general warning to all ships advising of a ‘live whale’ in Oban harbour and to proceed with caution.
A detailed account of the sperm whale sighting can be found on the Chalice Charter facebook page.
Chris’ photos illustrate perfectly the ID features to look out for in order to positively identify a sperm whale in the field:
- The bushy blow of a sperm whale is directed forwards and to the left, 1.5-5.0m high
- may lie log-like on the surface
- broad, triangular and deeply notched tail flukes thrown into air
- No fin but distinct triangular fin or dorsal hump two-thirds along the body, followed by spinal ridge.
After a tense few days, we have now received confirmation that the sperm whale has now left Oban harbour having spent eight days in the area. This is not the first time that sperm whales have been spotted in the Hebrides this year. Nick Davies, another SWF Recommended Boat Operator (Hebridean Whale Cruises), also reported a group of five sperm whales in Loch Torridon on 18th February (see article). This may not be the last we see of these gentle giants…!
Many thanks to all those who reported their sightings. Don’t forget that all sightings are valuable so keep up the good work.