martin.j.tattersall's picture

Rorqual Whale - Biscay

Observed: 15th May 2008 By: martin.j.tattersallmartin.j.tattersall’s reputation in Mammalsmartin.j.tattersall’s reputation in Mammals

Seen from ferry in Bay of Biscay

Species interactions

No interactions present.


Gill Sinclair's picture

Rorqual whale species

Hi Martin - did you get any idea of size or any particular head features eg. pale colouration on one side of jaw/baleen?

Gill Sinclair
OU Certificate in Contemporary Science
Twitter @Gill_Sinclair

bobthebirder's picture

whale ID

This observation poses an interesting problem. The wildlife officer almost certainly identified the animal correctly, as they are very experienced in this field. But on iSpot we must presumably make our decision on the evidence presented to us. In which case Gill's ID of a rorqual species is probably as close as we can get. I expect the original ID was made using other features such as dorsal fin size and shape which would have been visible a few seconds after this shot was taken.

Bob Ford

martin.j.tattersall's picture

Whale id

Size was huge! Whale was around 200 metres away, and picture was taken from deck 11 of the ship - the height of a tower block! Lens was 300 mm at full zoom. In contrast, common dolphins right alongside she ship looked like sardines to the naked eye!

Unfortunately, none of the photo's I got showed any more detail than the one I posted. The Biscay Whale & Dolphin Project Officer observed the animal for much longer, using binoculars, and was pretty confident about her ID.

Thanks for the comments, I appreciate that on the limited evidence of the photo, it might not be possible to get any closer.

Gill Sinclair's picture

Whale ID

I agree with Bob that this is the nearest we can get to an ID based on the photo 'evidence'. As Bob says, the fin shape if visible would have determined between blue and fin or sei, but I have been on the Pride of Bilbao when there was a rather heated debate between two 'experts' about whether an animal was a fin or a sei - both 'experts' were 100% sure of their ID and neither would back down - these two species are difficult to tell apart, so for the purposes of iSpot it's probably best to leave at 'rorqual', but it definitely doesn't sound like a minke whale:-)

Gill Sinclair
OU Certificate in Contemporary Science
Twitter @Gill_Sinclair

the naturalist man's picture


I agre with Bob and Gill, it is impossible to get to species level from this photo.

Graham Banwell

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