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Nature / Boat users reminded to keep their distance from orcas

Lerwick fire station also reminds whale watchers to park responsibly

An image of an orca breaching the water off Fetlar, taken by Brydon Thomason last year.

PEOPLE have been reminded to keep their distance from orcas after a number of boats were seen following a pod of whales near Lerwick on Friday evening.

Scottish Natural Heritage’s Karen Hall said it is an offence to disturb any cetacean.

She added that the Scottish Marine Wildlife Code should be observed.

People on the sea are advised to stay more than 100 metres away from whales and dolphins, while they should not make sudden changes to speed or direction. Boat users should not approach them from directly in front or behind.

Any incidents should be reported to Police Scotland on 101.

The Lerwick Fire Station, meanwhile, reminded people to keep the building’s exits clear after a number of vehicles were parked near the station as people sought a glimpse of the orcas.

Cars were seen lined along Sea Road from Fjara and past the station, which also houses the ambulance service.

“All the crew here at Lerwick station love to watch orcas as much as you,” the fire station wrote on Facebook.

“However, we have a very important role in our community which means we are required to respond to incidents at a moment’s notice, which would have been very challenging as our entrances and car parks were taken over.

“Please be considerate, park responsibility, slow your speed and be careful. You never know when someone could step out between badly parked cars.”

Updates about the movements of killer whales are regularly posted on the Shetland Orca Sightings Facebook group.