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Orca calf spotted off Duncansby Head is part of elusive pod rarely seen

This orca was spotted off Stonehaven last month. Supplied by Nick Collins
This orca was spotted off Stonehaven last month. Supplied by Nick Collins

Wildlife lovers will be able to keep tabs on an orca calf after it was officially identified as part of an elusive pod.

Experts have been keeping an eye out for the calf, which they now know is part of a pod known as the 169s.

The group is not often seen, but is known to swim with a pod from Iceland, such as the 19s pod which were spotted at Duncansby Head over the weekend.

Video by Hannah Tait

Now the team who pull together the Scottish Killer Whale Photo Identification Catalogue have revealed they have officially connected the pod to the 169s pod, and even to which whale – 170.

Mum spotted hunting porpoise off Shetland last year

Karen Munro, who is one of the collaborators of the catalogue, said in a tweet: “Delighted to confirm ID today for a new orca calf we became aware of two weeks ago. New mum is 170 of the 169s pod, a pod we don’t see very often but know associate with Icelandic animals, such as the 19 pod who were also close by at Duncansby Head today.”

Identifying marks such as the dorsal fin, eye patch and other distinguishing features allow wildlife lovers to keep an eye on where the whales move. They are each given a unique ID number after they reach one and are resighted.

The mother of this calf was seen in May 2019 near Lossiemouth and last year was spotted with three others hunting harbour porpoise off Sumburgh Head.

There have been a number of recent sightings of orcas in Scotland, with many delighted to spot them around Stonehaven late last month.

Additionally, a giant humpback whale was spotted near Tiumpan Head on the east coast of Lewis yesterday.

Tiumpan Head is said to be one of the best spots in Europe to see cetaceans from land, with many people calling for a dolphin and whale centre to be established on the island.

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