A remarkable event unfolded on September 2, 2023, as a rare Sowerby’s whale was sighted in Cardigan Bay by SeaMôr Dolphin Watching Boat Trips in New Quay, Wales. The whale graced the area with its presence for a brief period before returning to the depths of the ocean.
“This sighting is incredibly rare,” stated Claudia Afeltra, Communications and Outreach Officer at the Sea Watch Foundation. “Since 2007, there have been just 13 confirmed sightings of Sowerby’s whales in the UK. While the initial observation did not raise immediate concerns about the whale’s health, as it seemed to be in good condition and retreated to deeper waters naturally, we will remain vigilant in monitoring its movements.”
Sowerby’s whales are a species primarily found in the deep waters of the ocean, usually exceeding depths of 1,000 meters. The fact that this sighting occurred in shallower waters makes it an extraordinary occurrence. These whales are categorized as small to medium-sized beaked whales, measuring around 5-7 meters in length and weighing up to 2 tons. Their distinct features include a lengthy, slim beak and a modest, hooked dorsal fin.
These oceanic creatures possess the remarkable ability to remain submerged for up to two hours, a trait that aids their deep-diving lifestyle. Their diet primarily consists of squid and fish.
Despite their remarkable characteristics, Sowerby’s whales are currently listed as ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This classification stems from pressing concerns such as entanglement in fishing gear and the loss of their natural habitat.
The Sea Watch Foundation, a dedicated marine life conservation charity, champions the protection of whales, dolphins, and other marine species. They call upon the public to contribute to their efforts by reporting any further sightings of Sowerby’s whales. Such information aids in understanding the distribution and behavioural patterns of this rare species, ultimately advancing conservation initiatives.