Spotting a minke whale with a calf is a very rare occurrence indeed! So why was this sighting so special? As far as we know there has never been another reported sighting of a minke whale adult with a calf alongside in the Hebrides. Our minke whales leave the Hebrides in October and go south to breeding grounds – but we don’t know where these are. When the whales return to the Hebrides in April, the young and adults are separate – we often see very small minke whales on their own. Seeing the adult with the calf was very special indeed, especially as they stayed with Elizabeth G for so long.
Here is the report from our Wildlife Guide Sam Udale-Smith from this sighting in May 2019
"It was the last full day of our 6-night cruise, exploring Skye and the Small Isles aboard Elizabeth G. We had been lucky enough to have some great weather, but despite several sightings of minke whales throughout the trip, they had all vanished frustratingly quickly! We were all keen for one last sighting, so everyone was out on deck as we headed south west from Eigg, despite it being a rather dreich morning…
As we were passing the Isle of Muck, the cry went up from one of the guests, and initially we weren’t sure what it was that had been spotted. The skipper slowed our speed, and we all had good but brief views of a minke that surfaced unpredictably around the boat. After spending a short time watching this individual, it vanished like all our previous sightings. We decided to head off on our original heading, but within a couple of minutes, another whale was spotted a little way ahead of us!
Some brilliant manoeuvring by our Skipper Chris put us in a great position, and we waited, holding position and hoping this whale would approach a little closer… Then it surfaced around 50 metres from the boat, and just as it was slipping back beneath the waves, we saw it; this whale had a calf with it!
None of the guests or crew had ever seen a minke whale adult with a calf before, but it was unmistakeable what we were seeing. Every time the adult whale surfaced, the calf would surface right behind and alongside the adult, and we had a fantastic time watching these animals travelling back and forth all around the boat. Everyone got great views of the pair, and it was amazing that of our many minke whale sightings, it was these two individuals who chose to remain with us for the longest.
It was such an incredible highlight of our trip, a chance to watch two totally relaxed and confiding minke whales, and the close bond they obviously shared. Truly an unforgettable encounter!" Sam Udale Smith, Wildlife Guide
Our cruises to Skye and the Small Isles have a great record for spotting wildlife. We still have availability in September 2019 on our Skye and the Small Isles: Hebrides Horizons 6-night cruise and Cruise around Skye: secret coastlines 8-night cruise