Firth of Forth humpback survives close encounter with a rope

A giant humpback whale which has thrilled onlookers for weeks may have left the Firth of Forth after a narrowly escaping a fatal rope entanglement.

Lyndsay McNeill, who maintains the Scottish Humpback Catalogue which helps identify individual whales, normally from their tail fins, said: “This juvenile humpback is here feeding on sprat and herring.

"This is the sixth year we have had them visit us in winter, photographers took images captured on New Year’s Day showing injuries to tail stock and dorsal ridge that weren’t there the day before!.

"We believe this was caused by entanglement and the humpback has luckily got himself free.”

Wildlife enthusiast Ronnie Mackie took pictures of the whale's injuries.

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She explained: “These injuries are superficial and there is no concern. The whale already had old scarring from what Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme has said is from fishing gear.

"A study done in Iceland said around 50% of humpbacks had entanglement scars. This whale appeared here malnourished on December 2 but has gained substantial weight and fortunately the injuries are superficial."

Ms McNeill added: “Humpbacks are not just at risk of entanglement in UK waters, this is a global issue and ropeless creels are the way forward which why we are working with fishermen who do not want to see this happen as much as us whale watchers.”

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Mr Mackie also captured this shot of the injured humpback.

Following a string of appearances on January 1, there have been no further sightings of the humpback.

It is understood that after arriving underweight and improving its overall condition, the whale now strong enough to continue wandering the world’s oceans.

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Ronnie Mackie also captured this stunning of a previous Forth humpback

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