Firth of Forth humpback whale: Incredible drone footage captures huge whale coming up for air

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
This incredible drone footage shows a humpback whale coming up for air in the Firth of Forth.

The whale was filmed from a boat which left Granton Harbour, Edinburgh on Sunday, December 12.

It came up for air a number of times and scared members of the crew when it 'popped up' just 30 feet from the boat by surprise.

Dan Casey, 30, from Lundin Links, Fife, has been trying to film the leviathan for three years.

Whales are identified by their unique tail flukes.Whales are identified by their unique tail flukes.
Whales are identified by their unique tail flukes.

He said he hoped his quest to find the whale had a 'happier ending' than Herman Melville's 1851 novel Moby Dick which ends with the obsessive Captain Ahab being dragged into the ocean.

Dan, a freelance TV assistant producer, had previously tried to film the whale by flying his drone as he stood on dry land.

He tracked it with the help of online enthusiasts, and the excursion lasted around four hours in 'perfect' conditions.

An image of a previous sighting of a humpback whale. Picture: Ronnie MackieAn image of a previous sighting of a humpback whale. Picture: Ronnie Mackie
An image of a previous sighting of a humpback whale. Picture: Ronnie Mackie

Whale watchers are attempting to determine whether it is the same mammal repeatedly spotted in the Forth in previous years.

Dan said: "I've been going along the coast the last three years trying to get this whale, following all the sightings that are uploaded online.

"I was never able to get it.

"Thankfully I messaged one of the groups on Facebook because I saw that they had been out on a boat before and got good pictures - so I asked if I could come along with the drone.

"We had the perfect weather for it. It was the calmest I had ever seen the Forth.

"Everything fell into place with the weather, I was very chuffed especially after trying for so long.

"It's like my own personal Moby Dick - in the Forth but hopefully it has a happier ending.

"As soon as we set out from Granton Harbour, heading across to Kinghorn, we could see him.

"He would bob up two or three times and then do a big dive - you know he's diving because the tail goes up.

"Then he can reappear anywhere.

"There was one point where he came up 30 feet from the boat and we had no idea he was so close.

"First we knew was the sound of the blowhole and we all jumped about a foot in the air.

"It was a really loud and bassy noise.

"He was there the whole time we were out there - three or four hours.

"You can go out for hours and see absolutely nothing - that was four hours of pure whale.”

Dan continued: "You can see the whole length of his body and how he dives under the water with the drone.

"It gives you an impression of the size of him.

"Someone suggested online he was up to 40 feet long.

"Every time he came up for air, it's a loud noise.

"It's the noise of his blowhole when he comes up and that's often what gives away his position.

"It seems the last three years he has been coming every winter.

"Last year they identified a whale that was the same as one spotted on the west coast six months prior.

"This one hasn't been completely identified this year - I think it's the same one but I don't think it's been completely confirmed.”

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.