Humpback whale spotted off Lewis

Photo: Noel Hawkins

A humpback whale was sighted off Lewis this week.

The whale was observed in East Loch Roag near Callanish on Monday with initial reports indicating it was circling in a small area of the loch – a sign that a whale might have got its tail tangled in ropes or fishing gear and be anchored to the sea bed. Volunteers from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue were mobilised from Ullapool, Dundee, Findorn and Thurso and drove a boat and their disentanglement kit — currently the only one in Europe — to the site.

After shadowing the whale the volunteers were happy to confirm that the animal was not trailing ropes and swimming freely so took pictures to record the individual and try to identify if it has been recorded elsewhere before.

Humpback sightings have been on the increase in the last two years, and this year alone has seen reports coming in from the Shetlands, Burghead on the east coast and even in the Forth of Firth. Marine experts are hoping that the rise in numbers might be due to a mix of a rising population as a result of the ban on hunting in 1986, growing fish stocks on fish species such as sprats and herring and possibly a greater awareness of how to report such sightings.

To find out more, volunteer or report a stranding or entanglement, please visit BDMLR’s website at www.bdmlr.org.uk