West coast orcas off Scotland’s east coast

This video says about itself:

An enthused Steve Backshall watches from his canoe as Orca Dolphins jump and dive in the sea infront of him – a process known as breaching. Great clip shot off the Canadian coast from Deadly 60 series 2.

From Wildlife Extra:

West coast orca spotted off Scotland‘s east coast

The West Coast Orca are well known, but have never been seen off the east coast before.

Orca seen off Peterhead normally live off west coast of Scotland

September 2013. There has been a confirmed sighting of the West Coast Community of killer whales off Peterhead – the first time members of this small and highly unique population have been reported off the east coast of Scotland.

The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT) have been monitoring the movements of this group since the early 1990’s, with sightings recorded predominantly in the Hebrides but also off Ireland and Wales. However, HWDT can now expand the range of these apex predators with a confirmed sighting of at least three individuals off eastern Scotland.

John Coe – Well known Orca

The video footage, captured by local man Ian Nash, clearly shows the male John Coe – who has a very distinctive notch in his dorsal fin – along with one other male and at least one female present. This distinctive notch allowed Sanna Kuningas, of the Sea Mammal Research Unit, to recognise the male as part of the West Coast Community and alerted HWDT and Dr Andy Foote, who has extensively studied orca populations in the north east Atlantic as part of the North Atlantic Killer Whale ID (NAKID) project.

Just 9 whales

The West Coast Community are a unique group of orca in the north east Atlantic. The entire population is comprised of just 5 males and 4 females and no calves have ever been recorded in the two decades HWDT have been monitoring the group. Following research conducted by Dr Andy Foote, it was confirmed that the West Coast Community never interact with other populations of the north east Atlantic and are actually morphologically different; having different eye patch orientation to other populations found in the north east Atlantic.

UK’s only resident orca

The West Coast Community are thought to be the only resident population of orca in the British Isles. It is also suspected that this small population prey exclusively on other cetaceans such as porpoise and Minke whale. All these variables lead to a distinct and therefore highly vulnerable population of killer whales.


HWDT rely greatly on members of the public to report their sightings of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoise) and basking sharks, this enables a better understanding of the marine environment, both locally and in an international context.

Mark Hosford, HWDTs Sightings Officer, adds, “The West Coast Community of orca have a range which includes a large portion of the western coast of the British Isles. This, combined with the small number of individuals within the group, means that sightings of the West Coast Community can be few and far between. The HWDT research vessel Silurian has a large area to cover and can only be in one place at a time, so having a community-based sightings network allows HWDT to gather much more information on the orca than we could on our own.” If you encounter a cetacean or basking shark, you can contribute to our community sightings network by reporting your sighting online at www.hwdt.org.

This video is called Basking Sharks Cornwall.

6 thoughts on “West coast orcas off Scotland’s east coast

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