What? Whales In Yorkshire!
Yes, you heard correctly, there’s whale watching in Yorkshire!
As I was lucky enough to experience for myself.
I left Spring Cottage early one day in September and headed across the North Yorks Moors to the fishing village of Staithes. The starting point for my whale watching adventure. This tour was a Christmas present so I’d only had to wait patiently for 8 months!
We met Richard from Yorkshire Coast Nature who took us to the harbour to catch the early tide. Our skipper was local fisherman Sean and his boat “All My Sons”.
The sea was calm on our journey out to the whale areas and we soon saw porpoises. Richard was enthusiastically pointing out sea birds before we even left the harbour. And this continued with Sean (seen left in the yellow wellies) being equally as knowledgeable. What fascinating backgrounds some of these sea birds had and how far some of them had travelled! Richard was particularly excited to see the Manx Shearwater!
Whales of course, could not be guaranteed.
Although we knew trips earlier in the week had had sightings. For us, our initial trip elicited no sightings despite the mackerel lines being cast off the side of the small fishing boat to help attract any passing whales. This still didn’t have the desired effect. But lots of fish were caught (to be handed out to take home for later that night). Mackerel for tonight’s BBQ anyone?
It was interesting to hear first hand from a fisherman about the true condition of the fish stocks in the North Sea. With the amount of mackeral and herring there, it certainly appeared to be healthy! Now the weather took a turn for the worse. It clouded over and an initial swell dropped to be replaced by a steady downpour. We started to make our way back to the harbour towing a bag of chum (old fish) to attract and photograph the passing seabirds.
A bit despondent, we made a collective decision amongst the group to turn the boat around and head back out for a final chance to see the whales.
We were rewarded with our first sightings of Minke whales.
Without Richard and Sean’s keen eyes we would not have seen the initial curving arches in the distance. The boat was immediately set in the general direction of the sighting and then a whale broke surface immediately in front of us. It gave a fantastic sense of the gracefulness and size of these creatures. (up to 10 metres long). For the next hour we scanned the horizon for two further sightings before the whales swam below for approximately five minutes feeding. Finally they disappeared following the herring on which they feed.
We set off back to the harbour, wet but elated with what we had seen. It was a case of experiencing the lows before the highs of nature watching.
We arrived back after about seven hours at sea.
In summary a great day out. The enthusiasm of Richard and Sean was obvious and infectious. We were left with an insight into the magnificent animals that roam just a few miles off our coast, unseen by all but a lucky few. And one of those is me!
Find out more about Yorkshire Coast Nature; their whale tours, photography workshops and nature tours here: Yorkshire Coast Nature
Pictures in this blog are copywright@Yorkshire Coast Nature
Do you want more ideas and inspiration on where to visit and what to do while on holiday in Yorkshire? Then click here and download a copy of my guide to North Yorkshire’s hidden gems, to help you get the most out of your time here: