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A very rare visitor was reported by Chris and June Banks, visitors from Derbyshire. On 8th September, two Northern Botttlenose Whales were sighted and photographed very close inshore in Loch Scridain. The only other confirmed sighting of this cetacean around Mull was two years ago.
This rare whale was a long way from home. They are more usually found in the deep waters of the Northern Atlantic Ocean, they feed on a variety of fish, shrimps and squid. They are most common in the northern waters from Nova Scotia up to Iceland.
Northern Bottlenose Whales grow up to 9 meters in length and have a very distinctive large, forehead and a dolphin-like beak. The bulbous forehead is particularly large in adult males. Their bodies are long and cylindrical with a small triangular dorsal fin set well back along the body. Some males show signs of scarring from fights and most males develop 2 sharp teeth. They can stay submerged for a very long time, more than one hour and possibly up to two hours and lift their tail flukes before commencing such a long, deep dive. They make a complex range of calls and use their superb sonar to hunt at depth.
Chris managed to take these photographs of our visiting whales and has kindly allowed me to reproduce them.
Mull seems to be attracting an increasing number of different species. You will remember the Bearded Seal which spent three months on Loch na Keal earlier in the year, (2008). Both these species should not be here, they normally live in much colder waters than we have around Mull. What’s happening to bring them into our waters?

Northern Bottlenose Whale in Loch Scridain 8th September 2008
Images kindly supplied by Chris and June Banks


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This is the web site of Alan Spellman, 'Maridon' Lochdon, Isle of Mull. PA64  6AP