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More than 50 spectators turn out to watch humpback whale swimming off Fife coast

Spectators watching humpack whale in Burtisland, Fife.
Spectators watching humpack whale in Burtisland, Fife.

A number of locals turned out on Sunday to watch a humpback whale swimming in the River Forth, just off the coast of Burntisland.

The humpback was first spotted in the Fourth on Thursday morning and has since been making it’s way between Inchkeith and Burntisland over the last four days.

But after word got out about the surprising visitor, over 50 tourists and locals decided to spread out across Burntisland harbour to catch a glimpse of the mammal.

Humpback whale swimming off Fife coast. Pic credit: Bruce Meldrum.

Jenny McNeill, from Dalkeith, who is an admin for Scottish Humpback ID on Facebook, managed to capture a video of the whale after she went out on a boat with the hopes to see it up close.

“It was an incredible experience, we have been watching the humpbacks in the Forth since 2017 but this is the first time I’ve been out on a boat seeing them so close,” Jenny said.

“I feel so grateful that I’ve had that opportunity and had to pinch myself. Having these animals so close to home is just amazing.

“The whale was feeding in a circle so we got to watch him from a safe distance for a good while and headed back to the harbour into the sunset with the whale still feeding behind us.

“They don’t usually arrive until January or February, so it is a real treat having this early appearance.”

‘A real treat’

Jane Ferguson, from Dunfermline, is part of the Forth Marine Mammals page on Facebook and first spotted the whale on Thursday morning after she was alerted by another member of the group of it’s arrival.

Jane said: “I’m out most days looking for porpoises or dolphins if there’s no whale about.

“I’ve seen three different types of whales this year in the Forth which is fantastic.

Whale tail as it dives, taken from Kinghorn at a distance of almost 4 miles.

“The most unusual whale I’ve seen in the Forth is a Sei whale, back in April and June.”

After keeping an eye on the humpbacks latest movements for four days now, Jane was please to see she was joined by many others in Burntisland.

Jane said: “I’ve been doing this for the last six years now, every winter we have the humpback whale in the fourth, at least one.

Spectators went out in boats to see the humpback up close.

“Sometimes two sometimes three or four but they can be a different times.

“Today there was about 50 people in about different areas and two boats that were looking out, all keeping their proper distance.

“There was two boats out with about ten to fifteen people as well so there was loads of people. It’s got great interest.

Whale watchers at the harbour in Kinghorn looking out for the hump back whales.

“It’s quite cool when you’ve seen them before but other folk haven’t and you get some of the excitement from them about seeing them for the first time so it’s lovely.”

Most spectators watched from the Burntisland harbour sea wall where it was recently announced it will be fenced off after approval was given from the council, causing controversy amongst locals who have objected the decision.

Month after rare whale death

The spotted humpback comes less than a month after a stranded sei whale that was rescued off the Fife coast was found dead just a day later.

Rescuers had managed to direct the animal into deeper waters on after it was spotted by locals less than 100m from the shoreline.

A post-mortem carried out on the rare whale revealed the animal hadn’t eaten for several days before its death.

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