News / Huge humpback off Sumburgh Head

Humpback whale swims inshore in West Voe, Sumburgh. Pic. Hugh Harrop

NATURE lovers were awed by the sight of a 50 foot long humpback whale swimming within metres of the shore off Shetland’s south mainland.

The giant of the deep was spotted by ornithologist Martin Heubeck on his way to work at Sumburgh Head and a crowd of people quickly gathered to observe it swimming around West Voe.

Humpback whales are a rare sight off Shetland, though one became trapped in creel ropes off the isles’ north mainland in September last year, freeing itself just as a major rescue operation was being organised.

Photographer Hugh Harrop, who was one of the first at the scene, described it as “an enormous animal”.

“It was the biggest humpback I have ever seen, I would say in excess of 50 feet,” said Mr Harrop, who hosts marine wildlife trips around the world.

“It was awesome to see it swimming through the huge swell and it gave you a really good idea of the environment they have to exist in. For me it was an early Christmas present.


“Whether it was feeding or whether it was lost we don’t know, but at its closest it was about 200 metres offshore. There is a wee bit of concern about it stranding, but I have seen humpbacks really close to reefs in Canada.”

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