John Coe and Aquarius...
26th February 2018 - After receiving a report that a local creel fisherman had encountered Orcas off north-west Mull a few hours ago, I headed out to a high vantage point near Calgary so that I could cover as much sea as possible. The report mentioned a bull so I knew that if they were still in Mull waters, the large dorsal fin of the animal would be visible from a greater distance. Equipped with my spotting scope and a pair of binoculars, I scanned the seas for around an hour and was close to heading back home until I got onto something that looked slightly different amongst the wavelets, a long way north. I got the scope fixed on the area and there it was, that huge black sail emerging like a conveyor-belt...a male Orca.
It was accompanied by a second bull and they were in waters known locally as 'the middle grounds' and heading west towards the east side of Coll. As the earlier report had mentioned, John Coe was one of the animals identified and due to his unique dorsal fin I could identify him using the spotting scope from around 9km away! He has a deep notch out of the trailing edge of his fin and it appears that this may provide a lack of stability, as on every surface role you can see the dorsal fin wobble.
The other male was later identified as Aquarius. He has a broad very sturdy dorsal fin and has been recorded with John Coe on a small number of occasions in the last couple of years, including the same week as last year, 1st March 2017 off the Isle of Mull. After speaking to one of the creel fisherman who reported the sighting he said that they saw two bulls on the very same week in 2016 as well! Going back to this encounter and I watched the animals start to work their way south westerly, really picking up speed, steaming past Caliach point, the north-west tip of Mull. Due to being higher up in a good land-based viewpoint I could see the exact course they were taking and also watch them for a longer period of time, as I could cover so much of the surrounding sea. I managed a couple of videos of the action with one showing the two bulls close to a fishing vessel, providing a good scale of size. I carried on watching the animals make their way south and out of view as the sun set over Coll and Tiree, the Atlantic twins. It was a real privilege to see these two animals again and lets hope the sightings continue in 2018 and beyond.