Watch the moment rare humpback whale is spotted ‘flapping its tail’ in British waters

The couple thought it was just some splashes of water in the choppy sea until they spotted the fin

A couple sailing around the UK have been left with a “memory to treasure forever” as they witnessed a rare sighting of a humpback whale in British waters. The pair said they “noticed some splashes ahead” but as the sea was choppy they weren’t sure what it was until they spotted a fin in the distance.

Linda Cassidy, 44, and partner Ryan Davis, 44, from Bournemouth, were sailing from Plymouth to Falmouth when the rare sighting occurred earlier this month. Linda said: “We were sailing from Plymouth to Falmouth on Monday (June 5) and were approximately 2nm south/southeast of Gull Rock when we noticed some splashes ahead.

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“The sea was rather choppy so at first we were unsure as to what it was, then we saw the fin and realised we were witnessing a whale slapping its tail on the surface of the water! It was an incredible experience, especially when it performed a breach at the end, and a memory we will treasure forever."

The whale was spotted two miles off the Cornish coast and has left marine conservations ‘full of joy’ as the mammals, which can grow up to 18 metres long, are rarely seen off the far southwest of England. Making the event even more surprising is the fact there have been no previous sightings of one in that area at this time of year, according to modern records.

A rare humpback whale has been spotted off the Cornish coastA rare humpback whale has been spotted off the Cornish coast
A rare humpback whale has been spotted off the Cornish coast | Evocean

The Cornwall Wildlife Trust said: "These magnificent megafaunas are usually only sighted around Cornwall during the winter months. Some people think the tail slapping seen in this video is communication, whales talking to each other.

"It is also thought to help stun prey in the water, or used in dominant behaviour in males."

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Abby Crosby, a marine conservation officer for the trust, said: “This is a very special sighting as humpbacks are usually sighted here in Cornwall only sporadically in the winter months.

To get a sighting like this in early summer is brilliant. It may indicate the species is recovering. I see it as a wake-up call to remind us how impressive our Cornish seas are.”

The trust said the humpbacks sightings are more common off Shetland and the Hebrides and they are also increasingly being spotted in the northern parts of the North Sea. Whalespotter Linda said she hopes they see more as they sail around Scotland.

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