Beach goers in Wales were treated to rare sighting when a pair of whales swam close to the shore at a popular beach.
The duo were spotted in about 6ft of water in Cardigan Bay, Gwynedd, and were spotted by two jet ski users who followed them out to sea.
“They followed us almost over to Barmouth (some 15 miles away), then they went on their way,” said one of the riders, who asked not to be named. “We couldn’t believe how shallow they were initially, and how happy they were to swim beside us for so long.”
Whilst it’s very rare to spot whales in such shallow waters, pilor whales tend to eat squid and some fish and it may be possible the two spotted were part of a pod pursuing prey.
However, it wasn’t the first time mammal was spotted in the area.
Just 24 hours prior an orca was spotted in the shore at Criccieth Bay and some have theorised that the whales were trying to escape the orca when spotted by the jet skiers.
David Silcock reported seeing the suspected orca from a viewing point on the hill behind Dylan’s restaurant in Criccieth.
He told North Wales Live : “It was definitely bigger than a dolphin but I was that busy trying to judge when and where it would surface, I didn’t take as good a look as I could. It just moved diving and resurfacing from Black Rock and went past the castle.”
Neither the orca or the pilot whales’ identity have been formally confirmed but the jetski rider described one pilot whale as being around three metres in length, the other slightly shorter.
As adult females can reach over four metres, and males over five metres, it suggests the pair were juveniles – or something else.
Pilot whales are not uncommon but they are mainly seen in the middle of the Irish Sea. It is unusual to see them so close to shore – but not surprising, as they are among the most likely of all cetaceans to become stranded on beaches.
The whales were spotted at the start of this year’s National Whale and Dolphin Watch week which takes place from July 21-31.
Watches and surveys are taking place across the country to create a snapshot of what can be seen in UK coastal waters giving Sea Watch a better idea of the distribution of whales, dolphins and porpoises around the UK.