A MAGNIFICENT humpback whale provided a rare and thrilling spectacle for onlookers as it made a close approach to the Pembrokeshire coast, specifically in the vicinity of Fishguard Harbour on Friday, January 19.
The extraordinary event captivated the crowds who eagerly gathered at key vantage points including the inner breakwater, the historic Old Fort, and the convent.
The majestic creature was first sighted in Fishguard Bay during the morning hours of Friday and lingered in the bay until the early afternoon. This extended stay offered an unparalleled opportunity for residents and visitors to witness the whale in its natural habitat.
The excitement peaked just after 1pm when the whale was observed maneuvering between the end of the inner breakwater and the Old Fort, eventually making its way towards Goodwick. It surfaced near Fisherman’s Quay, to the amazement of onlookers. Initial concerns grew for the whale’s wellbeing as it ventured closer to the shore, but these fears were allayed when the animal gracefully turned and travelled up alongside the inner breakwater. In a breathtaking display, it came astonishingly close to the awe-struck crowd before confidently heading back out to sea.
Cliff Benson of Sea Trust, with over three decades of experience in marine observation, remarked on the rarity of such a sighting in these waters. “In my 30 years of doing this, I have only ever seen a humpback once before off the coast of Pembrokeshire, and that was at Strumble Head,” he said. According to Benson, the appearance of the humpback whale near Fishguard could be attributed to the pursuit of herring, which have recently returned to the bay. This event aligns with recent increased dolphin activity in the harbour.
The Pembrokeshire coast, known for its diverse marine life, has been a sighting ground for various species, including Minke whales, orcas, and Risso’s dolphins. The addition of humpback whales to this list highlights the region’s ecological significance and underscores the importance of continued efforts in marine conservation and research.
Humpback whales, known for their impressive size and distinctive body shape, are a migratory species and are often celebrated for their acrobatic displays and melodic songs. This encounter serves as a reminder of the rich biodiversity in our oceans and the need to protect these magnificent creatures and their habitats for future generations to enjoy and study.
This remarkable encounter with a humpback whale not only adds to the natural allure of the Pembrokeshire coast but also provides valuable insight for marine biologists and conservationists who continually monitor and study these majestic giants of the sea.