On 13th January, a humpback whale was spotted and photographed at Cranstal, near the Point of Ayre and reported to Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch. This is the 5th humpback whale to be spotted off the Isle of Man since June 2023, following 7 years without one.
The photograph, taken by Jeremy Paul, shows the whale has many white skin lesions across the body which were to be key in later identifying the animal.
On 19th January, a humpback whale popped up in Fishguard, Pembrokeshire- the base of marine conservation group Sea Trust. A series of photographs were posted to the group’s Facebook page and spotted by MWDW- who recognised the whale due to the skin markings. This is another unusual location for humpback whales, with just a handful of reports in 30 years.
The whale, who became known as ‘Humpy’, spent the following week feeding close to shore where he was watched by hundreds of onlookers. He was last spotted in the area on 27th January.
Then, on 1st February, a humpback whale popped up at St Ives, Cornwall and was photographed by a member of Seaquest Southwest. The team, who had been following the news of Humpy via social media, made the identification. Cornwall has seen a huge increase in many marine species since 2019, including humpback whales, Bluefin tuna and dolphins.
This match shows the importance of citizen science, collaboration and social media as a tool for conservation.