Orcas spotted swimming off coast of Cornwall near Minack Theatre

One of the orca's - named 'Aquarius' - swimming off the coast of West Cornwall. Credit: Will McEnery-Cartwright / @mc_naturelife

Two orcas have been seen swimming off the coast of West Cornwall.

The pair of whales were seen swimming close to The Minack Theatre and captured on camera by Will McEnery-Cartwright.

He said: "I was taking in the views and drinking coffee at The Minack Theatre and I spotted a whale fin in the distance.

"I couldn't believe my eyes when I realised it was an orca (killer whale)."

Cornwall Wildlife Trust occasionally receives reports of orcas in Cornwall but has not been able to confirm many previous sightings due to their similarity to Risso’s dolphins and a lack of photographic evidence.  

The orca named 'John Coe'. Credit: Will McEnery-Cartwright / @mc_naturelife

These whales were identified by the shape and notches of their dorsal fins and patches of colouration near their eyes and on their backs which makes them easily recognisable.

Abby Crosby, Marine Conservation Officer at Cornwall Wildlife Trust, said the team were "incredibly excited" to hear about the orcas and see photographs of them.

She added: "This is the first official orca record in our databases with associated photos in over a decade, and further proof of the value of our coastal seas in supporting these magnificent creatures.”

The two orcas form part of the 'West Coast Community' - a pod of eight orcas which can be distinguished from other groups of killer whales by their unusual sloping eye patch and larger size. 

Although they are regularly monitored, some of them have not been seen in recent years and there have been no calves since monitoring started in the 1990s.

Abby said: “This pod, and the issues it faces with infertility and future extinction, should be a huge wake up call to the public that we must protect these creatures better in our waters.

"Now is the time to take action by supporting our 2021 Appeal.”

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