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Barney the humpback whale spotted during Isle of Skye boat trip

Picture: Cath Bain
Picture: Cath Bain

Passengers and crew on an Isle of Skye boat trip this week were surprised to spot a humpback whale fluking in the water.

Thanks to some photos captured by a passenger, the whale was able to be identified as SCUK046BARNEY, known simply to his new friends as Barney.

Cath Bain, who took the photos, is also part of the Large Whale Disentanglement Team for British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR).

The humpback whale was spotted fluking in the water. Picture: Cath Bain.

She said: “The crew had got a tip from a shore-based watcher that meant we could be in the right place to see the humpback.

“We had just given up hope of seeing it and were carrying on with the rest of the trip, when I saw the blow from the whale.

“I posted the photos to Lyndsay McNeill, who runs the Scottish Humpback ID Catalogue, and she was able to identify the animal as “Barney”.

“It was amazing to see a humpback that didn’t need any help!”

‘The response was incredible’

Barney was spotted during a regular excursion by Stardust Boat Trips, based at Portree Harbour on the Isle of Skye.

Although they often encounter wildlife, crew member Iain Cormack said it was surprising to see a humpback whale in the area.

He said: “This is peak season for whale watching, however sea eagles, which we specialise in, are residents on our coast, so we see them all year round.

Minke whales are the kind of whales we normally spot at this time of year in the Sound of Raasay, so seeing a humpback was quite the surprise as they are a slightly more exotic species.

“We’d actually been tipped off by our boss, Dan, about the humpback as he had been told about it by the island manager in Rona.

“When we spotted the animal, the response was incredible – not only for the passengers, but for myself and the skipper, James, as well.

Barney the humpback whale off the Isle of Skye. Picture: Cath Bain.

“Cath gave us a plethora of very useful information on humpbacks, and in particular on Barney. We know he’d only been spotted twice before in Scottish waters – off Coll in August 2020 and in the Firth of Forth in January 2021.

“Thanks must go to Cath’s friend Lyndsay as well, for quickly managing to ID Barney from the pictures.”

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