Blue whale spotted off the Cornish coast
Dolphins off the Welsh coast, porpoises near Penzance, and now a rare blue whale within swimming distance of Cornwall; the waters surrounding the UK have been teeming with a multitude of exciting sea life sightings.
Last week, researchers aboard the Royal Research vessel James Cook had a once-in-a-lifetime viewing of a blue whale near a deep water canyon on the northern edge of the Bay of Biscay – only 250 miles from Cornwall. The whale was photographed by Professor Russell Wynn, who is from the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) in Southampton.
"I was undertaking our daily marine mammal survey and enjoying watching up to seven fin whales around the ship, when the blue whale suddenly surfaced about a kilometre away,” Wynn said about the encounter. “I had just enough time to secure some conclusive photos before the visibility decreased and the whale disappeared into the gloom."
The last sighting of a blue whale this close to the UK was September 2008 when one of them was photographed off the southwest coast of Ireland. The largest animal on the planet, they can grow to be twice as long as a double decker bus.
Blue whales were hunted to near-extinction in the north-east Atlantic in the early 20th century, but experts believe the population is slowly starting to recover. The whales are even beginning to move into new areas in search of food.
"There was huge excitement on board as many people got a glimpse of their first blue whale,” said Dr Veerle Huvenne, also from the NOC and the expedition's chief scientist, in media reports. "The Biscay margin is already recognised as a hotspot for whales, dolphins and seabirds - our new data further underline the importance of this area for iconic marine life."
Local experts say sightings of whales, porpoises and dolphins are increasing in occurrence in the area. The animals have been seen in a number of places along the Welsh, Devonshire and Cornish coasts. If you are planning on enjoying great holidays in Cornwall, these majestic creatures are great attractions for visitors to the South West.