Experts warn sightseers not to 'harass' Forth's humpback whale

Recent sightings of the Humpback whale in the Forth Estuary have proved a popular attraction at Pettycur Bay.

Thursday, 9th March 2017, 3:38 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:56 am
A humpback whale breaching in the Firth of Forth of the coast of Kinghorn. Pic Allan Brown.
A humpback whale breaching in the Firth of Forth of the coast of Kinghorn. Pic Allan Brown.

People have been gathering to watch the spectacle as the whale has been seen giving an impressive display of breaching and falling back into the water.

Humpback sightings are not uncommon in Scotland, but a whale this size being so far up the Forth estuary is a lot more unusual, say experts

However, Police Scotland Wildlife Liaison Officer Lindsay Kerr is offering some advice to those who might be tempted to try and get a closer look.

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Lindsay Kerr said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for wildlife watchers and marine tourism but it is essential that the health and well-being of the animals is considered at all times.

“The Forth Estuary is subject to large tidal changes and any disturbance to the visiting whale could cause significant risk of it becoming distressed and moving further into shallow water and then becoming stranded by a rapidly outgoing tide.

“Legislation is in place to protect these marine mammals. Please enjoy this wonderful occurrence but do show respect to the whales and be aware of the protection afforded to them.

“I recommend boat and vessel owners follow the Wildlife Safe (WiSe) scheme. In this particular case, commercial and recreational users should not make any attempts to approach or actively pursue the whale.

“The scheme, which is a UK standard for commercial marine wildlife watching, includes a code of conduct and sets out best practice for wildlife watching.”

Endangered species such as dolphins, porpoises and whales are protected by wildlife legislation including the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Under the Act it is an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb them. They are legally monitored by the charity British Divers Marine Life rescue, BDMLR who are dedicated to the rescue and well-being of all marine animals in distress around the UK and have provided workshops for police in Fife.

If you see dolphins, porpoise or whales being disturbed, please contact Police Scotland on 101.