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ORCAS - Always Expect the Unexpected!!

A sea-watching session at our local patch of Caliach on Wednesday proved to be very productive with 2 species of dolphins recorded in a six hour shift. It began with a pod of 6 Bottlenose Dolphins working the coastline at around 12noon. I managed a couple of record shots before they disappeared around the back of the headland and travelled west.

After a blank hour scanning a plane blue canvas I suddenly got onto a very distant blow on the horizon, in a SW direction. After managing to track a number of surface sequences at great distances the cetaceans seemed to be moving north and getting closer!

As they got slightly nearer I was able to ID the cetacean species when I saw a bull surface roll side on like a rotating conveyor-belt, revealing that 2 metre long black sail!! ORCA!!!

There was two bulls accompanied by cows as well (possibly up to 3). They were hard to track at a distance and I kept losing them for spells of up to half an hour. Once I go onto them again the bulls had broke away and were heading north at a speed of around 8 knots! They stayed on a steady course and I was very fortunate to observe them do a surface sequence past the headland, and I even managed to capture this on video!

Going off the heavily cropped screen grab I can tell that the bull on the right is the very well known 'John Coe' first recorded and named in 1980 by Richard Fairbarins (Popz). The bull on the left appears to be 'Aquarius' who has a broad, clean triangular dorsal fin. I have met these bulls before on Sea Life Surveys excursions in August 2012 and in June 2014.

They disappeared again for nearly an hour and I was about to leave for home, but then I got onto them again in waters to the north. The sea state had got slightly more jabbly at this stage so it made distant sightings a bit trickier but I managed another couple of sequences, before heading back to the croft at 6ish for a well earned supper!

When I got home I discovered Rachel stood with a spotting scope pointing north and she had just managed to see the Orcas (her first killer whales)...not a bad garden record!!

A memorable afternoon and a nice early birthday treat and a great way to spend the last ever day in my 20s!

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