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Thar She Blows!

  • Sun 23rd Sep, 2018

What a summer, of unprecedented heat, cloudless blue skies, baking pavements and sparkling lazy seas shimmering like mirrors to the horizon. Rare were those times of other summers, when temperatures would be soaring above the mid 20s inland yet by the coast we were wandering through an impenetrable curtain of sea roke, blind and dripping. This summer, by the sea, we had that heat!

The Bempton RSPB team watching the Humpback on the 30 July 2018The Bempton RSPB team watching the Humpback on the 30 July 2018

The second to last day of July was a beautiful mix of fresh clear air, turning into a hot and sunny afternoon and this was the day I encountered my first ever Humpback whale. Walking along the cliffs of Flamborough we were well aware it was the season for the Minke whales to start their journeys past our shores following the herring, so our eyes were constantly scanning the horizon, and when we were rewarded with the far out ball of gannets in the sky, their white feathers and black wing tips contrasting the blue, we knew we were in luck.

Humpback Whale Bempton 30 July 2018 © Jo SymonHumpback Whale Bempton 30 July 2018 © Jo Symon

"Minke!" went the call and we watched in fascination as its bulk broke the surface again and again. It gave us a show to remember as we settled ourselves in the grass to watch, but after the first ten or fifteen minutes we started to doubt what we were seeing. That fin slapping the water and that regular blow...it couldn't be? Yet as it neared we realised what we were actually watching was a Humpback!

Humpback Whale 8 miles at sea from Whitby 11/09/2014 © Richard BainesHumpback Whale 8 miles at sea from Whitby 11/09/2014 © Richard Baines

My first ever! What a magnificent creature. Not seen off these cliffs for four years, we were struck dumb for the next hour, ecstatic to the point of tears. Over that nine day period during the 2018 whale and dolphin watch week more than 500 sightings of over 13 different species were seen off our coast. Forget long-haul flights to Canada, our sea is teeming with life and this summer gave us a fantastic opportunity to remember.

Susie O'Neill

Susie works for the RSPB based at the Bempton Cliffs Reserve. She is also a local author. We are very pleased at YCN to welcome her on to our writing team, look out for more encounters on our news section soon! our YCN Seabird and Whale boat trips in Yorkshire and Ireland in 2018 and 2019 are now live Click Here too see all the details.