A close-up encounter with what is believed to be a humpback whale is the highlight of a spell of recent marine activity off the coast.
Although still rare, the species is becoming a more frequent visitor to the Angus area and the animal’s appearance was followed up by the antics of a pod of dolphins close to a local man’s boat just off the coast of Montrose.
Marine experts anticipate the activity will increase in the coming months and people have been urged to report sightings of whales or dolphins to help build a picture of the marine populations in local waters.
Montrose woman Mandy Mckay Keay said her husband, Gary, had been out on his small boat having recently returned from working offshore when he encountered the whale at the end of last week.
Special passing visitor alert!!! #humpbackwhale passing #Montrose early/mid afternoon #MontroseBay #Angus video on Montrose memories Facebook page c) Mandy McKay Keay 🐋🐋🐋 if you are lucky enough to see it please share your sighting at https://t.co/T90eiJsOpN… #ceataceans pic.twitter.com/VkbvXJ0FB8
— Marine Life Angus (@marinelifeangus) May 29, 2020
“He normally just goes out off the (Scurdie Ness) lighthouse to fish and was coming back in when the whale surfaced.
“It was pretty big and it’s just great to be able to see that sort of thing so near to Montrose.”
The size and characteristics of the creature have led to the theory it is a humpback, not a minke whale, which have also been seen around the Angus coasts.
Mandy added: “The last couple of days he has also been joined by a pod of dolphins. They come much closer to the boat and there was even a mother and calf.
“During the mackerel run the dolphins come right into the harbour at Montrose, and people can also stand on the shore around Scurdie Ness and they are really close in.
“There has been much less traffic in the harbour and another thing we have noticed is how much cleaner the water seems to be. There were beautiful comb jellies in the rock pools at Ferryden and the water was so clear.”
Marine Life Angus is receiving regular report of coastal cetacean activity, including a pod of almost 20 bottlenose dolphins off Arbroath’s Elliot beach at the weekend, and the sighting of a minke whale at the same location in March.
A humpack sighting off the Mearns coast at St Cyrus in 2017 by a family of German tourists drew visitors back to the local nature reserve the following year in the hope the mammal would make a re-appearance.