Whale Re-Sighted in East Scotland – Barney the Humpback Whale
Feb 02 2021
If you haven’t already seen some of the amazing footage of our amazing day with the two humpback whales off Coll last summer then check out the video below!
Since then over winter 20/21, our clients Emma and Rosie along with Shane have been working with Lyndsay Mcneill from the Scottish Humpback ID citizen science project. We created catalogue entries for the two whales we spotted, after a few long evenings going through photos to enable records of the left, right side, and tail fluke of the animals. These records are very similar to the photo ID work with basking sharks that allows us to track animals when they are re-sighted again. It’s a laborious task and creates a lot of work but when it all comes right it pays off big time!
Lyndsay contacted us on Sunday as there were some humpback whales spotted in the Firth of Forth, between Edinburgh & Fife, over the weekend. Photographer Greg Macvean had taken some great pics on Sunday that could be used for ID and it looked very much like the whale we saw last summer! A frantic evening of messaging and comparing images led to the confirmation it was the same animal!
There are 173 days between the sightings and who knows how far they have been in the interim period. Humpbacks have a migration route between the Arctic and the Tropics. Travelling north for winter to the rich feeding grounds then mating and calving in the warmer tropics. Through the followers of the Humpback ID group, and shore whale watchers some excited kids were allowed to name the whale. They chose Barney, due to the barnacle on the dorsal! This ties in nicely as it was the first thing that caught Lyndsay’s eye and triggered her memory of our images from Coll.
Norwegian research scientist Audun Rikardsen has satellite tagged some whales over the last few years in the Arctic. The results of his team’s work spectacularly show their migration route. Although it doesn’t show any records of Scotland, it gives a good idea of how they would pass by. There is even a theory that the sub-adults may not travel as far as the full route. Perhaps with such a productive season for fish stocks, the abundant food has enticed them to hang around more!?
It’s a great day for citizen science and we’re all super excited to have this result! Some positive news in amongst the current Covid doom and gloom!