Killer whale spotted off the coast of Norfolk

Updated: 

Killer Whale spotted off the coast of NorfolkPA


A local man has spotted a killer whale off the coast of Norfolk at Sheringham - and mammal experts have described the sighting as "highly reliable".

Dr David Leech, the county mammal recorder, said the sighting by experienced birdwatchers could be the first of an orca ever recorded in Norfolk, according to the BBC.

The birdwatcher in question, Giles Dunmore, who has experience of spotting killer whales in Tenerife and Alaska, saw the distinctive dorsal fin while looking for sea birds with pal Phil Vines.

He said he was "thrilled" to make the spot, adding: "It was a long way out, but I could see it was a big cetacean. I yelled out to Phil 'I'm certain it's an orca'".

Explaining why he thought the sighting was reliable, Dr Leech told the BBC: "[Killer whales] do have quite a distinctive dorsal fin. Some of the dolphins can be much harder to tell apart and some of the whales too.

"With that and the experience of the observer and knowing that they had good optical kit, because they were using telescopes to watch the birds, I think in combination that sounds like a really quite a reliable source."

Dr Leech, who is based at the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) in Thetford, said he thought the whale was alone, and that it could be in the area either for the "good food sources" like seals, or simply that it had wandered off course.
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He added that killer whales are more likely to be spotted off the Shetland Islands, as the waters are deeper in the northern North Sea.

Giles and Phil's notes and sketches are currently with the Norfolk Biological Information Service (NBIS), at County Hall, to confirm the identity of the whale.

Meanwhile, a judge last week dismissed a case lodged by animal rights group Peta that sought to give killer whales at SeaWorld constitutional rights.

The group sued SeaWorld for allegedly violating the anti-slavery 13th amendment rights of orca whales, and it was the first case ever in which the judge heard arguments over animals' constitutional rights.

He did not dismiss the case immediately but, according to MSN, in the end he stated in his ruling: "As 'slavery' and 'involuntary servitude' are uniquely human activities, as those terms have been historically and contemporaneously applied, there is simply no basis to construe the Thirteenth Amendment as applying to non-humans."

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