ORCA whales have been spotted swimming up the Firth of Clyde for the first time in at least thirty years.
The pod, thought to include at least five including a calf, was first seen heading upriver off the Ayrshire coast.
At around 11:30am, they were seen as far up as Dunoon.
A video, posted on Facebook by ferry passenger Lindsay Moss, showed the pod getting close to a Western Ferries vessel heading to Gourock over lunchtime.
She told The Sunday Post that it was a “special moment” to see them up close.
(For licensing or usage, contact firstname.lastname@example.org)#orca #westernferries #feelingunbelievablyluckyrightnow
Posted by Lindsay Calcraft on Saturday, 21 April 2018
Initially the group was seen swimming quickly in small groups, however they soon slowed down and looked to be foraging for food.
The highly mobile mammals, also known as killer whales, can travel at speeds of up to 35mph.
They’re very intelligent and inquisitive, often approaching boats.
David Nairn, from the Clyde Porpoise marine mammal project said: “It’s rare for them to come up into the main part of the Clyde there.
“They’re looking for seals and porpoises. We’ve got so many porpoises on the Clyde that it’s open season for catching them.
“There are reports also that they’ve eaten a seal, and one of our spotters said it looks like they’re teaching their young how to hunt.
“It’s really cool that they’re up here, really exciting.”
— George Fagan (@thegeogeo) April 21, 2018
Mr Nairn added that he was slightly concerned about the Joint Warrior naval exercise currently ongoing in the waters, which uses SONAR.
He said he’d alerted the coastguard and Faslane about the whales being in the area.
At present, the identities of these killer whales are unconfirmed, however it is thought that they belong to the Northern Isles Community that moves between Iceland and Scotland.
The sightings reports and videos confirm that there is one bull, as well as at least three females, and a young animal.
Pippa Garrard, of the Hebridean Whale & Dolphin Trust, said: “These sightings are really rare.
“To put it into perspective, since we started collating community sightings more than a decade ago, there have been less than a handful of killer whale encounters reported in and around the Clyde.”
At least five Orcas heading up the River Clyde just now
Posted by Christopher Denovan on Friday, 20 April 2018
Migratory pods of the animals are found off Scotland’s north and eastern coasts, following mackerel and herring shoals.
But on the west coast, there are thought to be up to ten resident all year round, known as the ‘West Coast Community’.
They tend to hunt marine mammals as prey.
Sightings of them have been mostly off Arran and southern Ayrshire.
According to experts, the largest orca ever measured was a 30ft long male, but those in Scottish waters are usually closer to 21ft long.
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