Stunning moment humpback whale leaps out of water just yards from boat

Stunning moment a humpback whale leaps out of water just yards from Devon fishermen’s boat

  • The whale was spotted leaping out of the water in Lyme Bay, Devon yesterday
  • Skipper Chris ‘Cece’ Clarke, 24, was fishing when he captured the footage
  • Humpback whales are currently listed as endangered and sightings are rare

A humpback whale surprised a crew of fishermen when it breached close to their boat off the coast of Devon yesterday morning. 

Incredible footage shows the moment the whale leapt out of the sea in Lyme Bay. 

Skipper Chris ‘Cece’ Clarke, 24, said the men had been working through the night when three whales appeared nearby. 


The humpback whale was sighted by a group of fishermen in Lyme Bay off the coast of Devon on July 26

He said three whales started circling his boat before one came close and leapt straight out the water.  

It then landed again and made a huge splash. 

‘We’d been up all night working and we saw them going past. It certainly woke us up a bit,’ he said.

‘Two of them were a way off, but one swam right past us, and leapt out the water.’ 

Chris told the BBC: ‘We’d just finished hauling one our strings of whelk pots, one of the lads shouted “Look, a whale.”

The humpback whale leapt out of the water a number of times, each time making a huge splash when it landed

 The crew had set out from Brixham, Devon and were about 14 miles off the coast of Lyme Regis in Dorset when they came across the whales

Sightings of humpback whales are rare and Chris said: ‘I’ve seen lots of dolphins and seals, but I’ve never seen a whale before’

‘I naturally thought he was pulling my leg then, next thing you know, it’s swimming next to the boat. It’s a lovely, lovely sight first thing in the morning. 

‘I’d seen there had been a couple of Minke whales spotted off Plymouth the other day on Facebook but I didn’t think I’d ever see one.

‘Perfect little start to the morning.’  

The crew had set out on the Pen Glas from Brixham, Devon, on Friday, July 24, and were about 14 miles off Lyme Regis in Dorset when they came across the whales.

Chris added: ‘I’ve seen lots of dolphins and seals, but I’ve never seen a whale before.

‘I never thought I was desperate to see a whale but I’m really glad that I have.’

It is one of a number of whale sightings off the South West coast in recent weeks.  

HUMPBACK WHALE POPULATIONS AND THEIR THREATS

Humpback whales live in oceans around the world. They travel incredible distances every year and have one of the longest migrations of any mammal on the planet. 

Some populations swim 5,000 miles from tropical breeding grounds to colder, plentiful feeding grounds – this is why it is difficult to estimate population size, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Of the 14 distinct populations, 12 are estimated to number more than 2,000 humpback whales each and two are estimated to number fewer than 2,000. 

Humpback whales live in oceans around the world. They travel incredible distances every year and have one of the longest migrations of any mammal on the planet

Some populations (such as those off eastern and western Australia) are believed to number in excess of 20,000 animals—a remarkable recovery given that the same populations were almost eradicated by whaling almost sixty years ago. 

By contrast, the smallest known population is one which inhabits the Arabian Sea year-round, and may number as few as 80 individuals. 

Threats to humpback whales include decline in food like Krill due to a combination of climate change and industrial-scale fishing.

Humpback whales can become entangled by many different gear types including moorings, traps, pots, or gillnets. 

Once entangled, if they are able to move the gear, the whale may drag and swim with attached gear for long distances, ultimately resulting in fatigue, compromised feeding ability, or severe injury. 

There is evidence to suggest that most humpback whales experience entanglement over the course of their lives, but are often able to shed the gear on their own. 

Inadvertent vessel strikes can injure or kill humpback whales. 

Humpback whales are vulnerable to vessel strikes throughout their range, but the risk is much higher in some coastal areas with heavy ship traffic. 

Underwater noise threatens whale populations, interrupting their normal behaviour and driving them away from areas important to their survival. 

Sound has been shown to increase stress hormones in their system and mask the natural sounds humpback whales require to communicate and locate prey. 

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