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Kayaking with a HUMPBACK WHALE off Scilly!!!

25th December 2020

Yesterday was pretty good but today was epic!! I never in my crazest dreams thought that I would be kayaking only meters away from a HUMPBACK WHALE like I did this afternoon!!!

Yesterday I said that I’m getting in my kayak today if the weather allows me. I set off early this morning from Sharks Pit, St Mary’s and found it too choppy to get out to where the whale was last seen just before dark yesterday inbetween St Agnes and Samson. From St Mary’s, I kayaked through the Eastern Isles, where I had yesterdays 1st winter male Eider, past St Martins towards Round Island, where there was a female Eider, past the south end of Tresco, and got off at Samson to relieve myself after being in a kayak for nearly four hours after seeing the family of 4 Brent Geese on Green Island. Anyways, news came on the Scilly Wildlife news WhatsApp group that the HUMPBACK WHALE was between the Garrison and Gugh. This is what I had been waiting for after the whale had spent all morning on the south end of St Mary’s being tracked all the time from other observers. I timed it perfectly, thinking that it will end up back in the same area as where we all were observing it yesterday. I got directions to where the mammal was and it wasn’t long until I reached almost Gugh. No sign of it anywhere. Then I jumped out of my skin as I heard the loud sound of it blowing, while at the same time, the majestic beast was rising out of the water slowly, only meters away from me being rocked around in the lumpy waters sitting in my kayak!!!. My heart was in my mouth and I was shaking. I couldn’t have got any closer if I tried. For the next twenty minutes, I found myself power rowing chasing after it and many times it was just ahead of me and on one occasion, showing off the underside of its whitetail. Everytime it rose out of the water, directly in front of me, I punched the air and shouted out loud. I just couldn’t take in what was happening. I got my camera out but it was no use and after firing a few shots, I gave up with the rough conditions and the camera getting wet. In the end, I kayaked all the way to St Mary’s and back to Samson, towards St Agnes in hot pursuit of the whale. By now it was making its way SW towards Annet and I gave up and made my way back home. I’m still pitching myself after this epic experience and from my kayak!? I’ve seen Humpbacks in the Gibraltar Straits two years ago and there they showed very well from the boat I was in but nothin like what I observed today. What a Christmas present! My highlight presents on Christmas day are normally a pair of socks from the charity shop or a heavy rock lamp which was ideal to fit nicely in my rocky outside! Not great pics of the whale but it gives you an idea of close I was getting to it.

Martin Goodey took this pic from St Mary’s of the HUMPBACK WHALE behind me near to the south end of Samson. It don’t look so rough from this image but believe me it was in a kayak or a rib.

And this was taken by Robin Mawer, pointing me out where I am in the vast open waters between St Agnes and Samson chasing the whale. It is now believed that there are actually 2 Humpback Whale out to where I was. It probably explains why I couldn’t work out why one minute it was off Samson and shortly afterwards sighted off St Mary’s. Then it’s off Samson again. Making me row back and forth between the two areas. I have no idea how many miles I covered today but it felt like 102! What a day!!

I passed 2 Eider including this female between Tean and Tresco

There was total of 16 Great Northern Diver, including these two with Round Island lighthouse, spread out around the islands but getting a photo in the choppy conditions proved hard work. Although, I was almost on top of a few individuals as they allowed me to approach them at very close range.

Also, some 150 sanderling, 100+Ringed Plover and 7 Dunlin were on the south shores of Tresco

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Author: Kris Webb 10

I love to throw sticks at trees! I also can’t get enough of music! I also blog about my observations on Scilly and wherever I go around the world and what’s sometimes on my mind. I’ve visited over 30 countries and some more times than once. I’ve worked and volunteered in Nepal, USA, Peru, Gambia, Costa Rica, 3x Australia, and refugee camps in Palestine The profile image is one I took while in Palestine of a brave Israeli holding high the Palestinian flag in front of the Israeli Offensive Forces during protests in Belin

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