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We spot a HUMPBACK WHALE in Falmouth Bay!

The last thing we expected to encounter on our passage to Falmouth was a Humpback Whale! But we did, and what an incredible experience it was!

And with today being World Ocean Day we hope that this sighting reaffirms that we must do all we can to protect our blue planet and the wonderful marine life that call it home.

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We had left from Plymouth just a few days ago, on 5th June 2023, after spending a few days up the River Lynher, but initially the easterly wind wasn’t as strong as forecasted and the sea state was very uncomfortable. We were struggling to keep the sail filled and were motoring, and actually debated deviating to Fowey. But we decided to push on and eventually the wind came, the engine went off and we were back to sailing. Unfortunately though the sea remained rather rolly, though we were making good progress at an average 6 knots.

Humpback Whale in Falmouth Bay

We were at position 50°09.550N 4°52.400W, approximately 2nm south/south east of Gull Rock when we first noticed some splashes up ahead, just off our starboard bow. The splashes were similar to what a jet ski would produce but we thought it highly unlikely that a jet skier would be out in these choppy seas. A double check of the charts confirmed that there were no obvious dangers in our vicinity, such as submerged rocks, so we maintained course.

Humpback Whale whale slapping its tail on the surface of the water in Falmouth Bay

Suddenly we witnessed a fin off to port and realised we were witnessing a whale in its natural environment. We quickly grabbed a camera and filmed as best we could, the swells making this a little more challenging!

Tail fin of a Humpback Whale spotted in Falmouth Bay

The whale slapped its fin on the water a number of times before performing a breach, its finale as we didn’t see it again!

Humpback Whale breaching in Falmouth Bay

It was an incredible sight to witness this beautiful creature out there in the wild, and of course totally unexpected. At best we were hoping to see some dolphins so this was a real treat, an unforgettable experience!

Our whale sighting goes viral!

At the time we probably didn’t fully appreciate the magnitude of what we were witnessing. But as the day went on we kept saying to ourselves ‘wow…we saw a whale‘ 😃 The following day we posted the clip to our Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. Next thing we knew we were being approached by so many people all wanting to share our incredible experience! As the clip was shared across social media the sighting eventually made its way to the media and local wildlife conservationists.

Cornwall Wildlife Trust contacted us saying that Humpback whale sightings in Cornwall are quite rare, especially at this time of year (June 2023).

Abby Crosby, marine conservation officer for Cornwall Wildlife Trust, said: “This is a very special sighting as humpbacks are usually sighted here in Cornwall only sporadically in the winter months. Some people in the world think the tail slapping seen in the video is communication – whales talking to each other. It is also thought to help stun prey in the water column or used in dominant behaviour in males. Our Seaquest Southwest group at Cornwall Wildlife Trust is cataloguing humpback sightings in southwest waters, so this fantastic sighting will be a great addition to our records.”

The trust published an article to their website and the encounter has been recorded on their database.

Local news outlet Cornwall Live were first to run a piece on our sighting stating ‘Humpback whale captured off Cornwall coast is a first! Conservationists believe it’s the first recorded sighting of a humpback whale at this time of year in the area’. Later Falmouth Nub News went with ‘Humpback Whale spotted in Falmouth Bay‘, meanwhile the Falmouth Packet are hoping that the sighting means that the animal is returning to the waters around here.

Mainstream Media pick up the story!

Our incredible whale sighting then made its way to ITV news who posted to their website ‘Incredible moment humpback whale spotted off Cornwall coast in rare sighting

But the biggest surprise had to be when The Guardian newspaper got in touch! Their article titled ‘Special’ humpback whale sighting off Cornwall coast delights conservationists made their ‘headline’ news section on their website and they published the story in the printed newspaper!


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