Humpback whale match! From Coll to the Firth of Forth - Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust

It’s a match! Thanks to the extraordinary effort of citizen scientists across Scotland, a humpback whale spotted last summer off the Scottish west coast, near the Isle of Coll in the Hebrides, has been spotted in the firth of forth on the east coast!

First reported on Whale Track by Alex Maclean-Bristol off Coll on the 30th July 2020, and later by Rosie from Basking Shark Scotland on the 11th August 2020, one of the whales spotted last summer has caused ‘whale fever’ as it was spotted again in the Firth of Forth over the weekend!

Lyndsay Mcneill, who set up the Scottish Humpback ID Facebook group, instantly recognised the whale after seeing a distinct barnacle on it’s dorsal fin. Lyndsay told us that the whale has been nicknamed ‘Barney’ by local children due to it’s distinctive dorsal fin decoration!

“‘Shane and Rosie from Basking Shark Scotland sent me photos from their encounter at Coll at the end of last year after having an amazing day out on the water watching two humpbacks lunge feeding! I added them into the catalogue on my Scottish humpback ID group hoping they would pop up again! To my amazement whilst going through some photos that were taken by a photographer in Edinburgh I instantly recognised the barnacles, so had a look through and the fluke matched as well!” - Lyndsay Mcneill, Scottish Humpback ID

Humpback whales, like Barney, travel thousands of miles each year, making long-distance migrations between warm-water breeding grounds in the tropics to the cold-water feeding grounds in the polar regions. Understanding of the large scale movements of these highly mobile species is important to inform conservation policies and it is amazing to be able to do this through citizen science. Thanks to the dedicated individuals that report their sightings and send in photos, and the amazing effort by Lyndsay McNeill of the Facebook Group Scottish Humpback ID to catalogue the animals, we’ve been able to gain a little insight into the lives of the amazing ocean wanderers that visit Scottish seas.

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