A pod of 14 sperm whales were seen swimming near the island of Fidra, just a mile offshore from the award-winning Seabird Centre at North Berwick, last Thursday.
Staff at the Scottish Seabird Centre, which is an official Sea Watch Foundation National Whale and Dolphin Watch site were later informed that the pod was changing direction and heading towards Crail in Fife.
The amazing sight was reported to the North Berwick-based centre by microlight pilots from East of Scotland Microlights, who spotted the whales from a height of 500ft.
The water was completely still apart from the disturbance created by the mammals’ blowholes and the froth churned by their tails.
The whales were also observed by Scottish Natural Heritage Staff and other researchers on the Isle of May, who were able to identify the whales’ tail flukes, dorsal fins and splumes of spray.
North Berwick-based marine conservationist and author Erich Hoyt said: “This sighting of 14 sperm whales between Fidra and the Lamb and along the North Berwick
shore is encouraging. Sperm whales are rarely seen in the Firth of Forth, and to see 14 of them travelling together is very special.
“The previous close sighting of sperm whales in North Berwick was exactly 10 years ago this month when a large sperm whale landed on the beach at Canty Bay, but this is certainly the largest group of living whales we’ve seen travelling together in or near the Firth of Forth. Sperm whales are usually residents of deeper waters off the north and west of Scotland where they hunt squid.
“The images confirm that they are sperm whales, including a few that are either immature males or females. Sperm whales in groups are usually either all males or females with
juveniles and calves, so given the absence of calves and the location this is most probably a group of young males. The one tail that is visible is consistent with a sperm whale tail fluke.”