Orca sighted just metres from Scottish coast16/06/2012 13:54:33 Killer whales' mackerel drive witnessed by hundreds
June 2012. An exceptionally close encounter with a group of five Orcas by hundreds of visitors and locals at Thurso and Scrabster was the dramatic return of well documented pod.
Karen Munro, from Scrabster, who has recorded sightings for Sea Watch for seven years, said: "I have never even seen harbour porpoises that close in to the harbour. The water in the harbour was said to be ‘boiling' when the killers passed Thurso. There were also lots of gannets and other fish eating birds around so we think they were driving a shoal of mackerel before them!"
Karen was first alerted to the group by her stepson, a local lifeboat man, who had seen them in Dunnet Bay. She followed the group - a sub adult male, two females, a juvenile and a calf - along the coast around Thurso to Scrabster.
Just 5 metres from the shore
Sea Watch Director, Dr Peter Evans said: "Identifying these killer whales is extremely important in helping scientists to understand numbers and the strength and health of populations, their behaviours and their movements. The more we know about them, the better we can conserve our marine animals.
"We always welcome pictures of whales, dolphins and porpoises from around the coast and will help to identify what has been seen. Pictures of fins are often the most reliable way to identify whether individuals have been seen before, although in the case of killer whales a shot of the flanks is very useful as the saddle patch can vary also in shape and size."
For Karen it is the second spectacular killer whale sighting in less than two months. She was amongst those who witnessed a group of six killer whales hunting white-beaked dolphins in the Pentland Firth last month. Confirmation of the ID of two of last weekend's group indicates that this was an entirely different group. A female killer whale found washed up dead in Brimsness about three miles away is also thought to be unconnected. An autopsy is being carried out to find out the cause of death.
National hale and Dolphin Watch week
Sea Watch holds the National Whale and Dolphin Watch which takes place from July 27-29 . The charity hopes that anyone with a love of wildlife, a pair of binoculars, and access to the coast anywhere around the UK will take part. For details of local co-ordinators, accredited boat operators, sightings sheets and more information go to www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.