Thursday, 25 April 2013

Run! Sperm whales at the Mainlight

Island residents on the whale twitch.

Instructions on the notice board.
Well the title says it all. There I was writing a very dull email about terms and conditions of a filming permit when the phone goes on the window ledge (the only place it can get reception in the cottage). It was Mark says "grab everyone, sperm whales at the Mainlight." The steep path from Fluke Street to the Mainlight goes by the name of Palpitation Brae - well the name didn't really cover it by the time I made it to the top clutching a scope -  it nearly had its name changed to Seizure Brae. But once I had stopped coughing, pulled myself together and got the scope up we were able to get distant views on 2 pods of sperm whales, distinguished by the flattened dorsal fin, the way the plume of spray went forward rather than up and the size of one or two (big). It seems like there were probably 12-15 and for the next hour plus we saw flukes being waved, a whole tail waved and lots of spy hoping (when they stick their head out of the water). Another bout of running and coughing and we managed to round up everyone staying on the island and we all got good views.  Eventually they covered the distance from Anstruther, past Fife Ness and out towards the North Sea and we headed down for a late tea.
Now that was about as much excitment as you can get on the Isle of May without feathers involved.


  1. Hi David - intrigued by this sighting! Can I just ask, what Colour were the animals? I Suspect That they were Actually pilot Whales, from the description & number of Animals & behaviour. Pilot whales Are black, while Sperm whales normally appear brownish. Fairly Certain they weren't fin Whales Anyway, as They've been reported elsewhere!!

  2. Hi, I can assure you that they were definitely sperm whales from the blow spout shape, colour, habits, dorsal fin shape, fluke size and experience of observers. Also sperm whale sightings are not unknown in the Forth. But thanks for your interest.

  3. Hi David, What a great sighting! Did anyone manage to get any photos of the animals? If so, it would be really interesting to see if we can identify any of the animals. Do you know if the animals have been re-sighted since Thursday?
    Danielle Gibas
    Sightings Officer, Sea Watch Foundation