Warmer waters attract more unusual visitors

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Sightings of large marine mammals including killer whales and dolphins close to Yorkshire’s shores are increasing as a result of global warming.

That is the opinion of conservationists who have analysed the increasing trend of unusual water visitors.

Last month, the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust received a report of a group of killer whales being sighted off the coast of Filey – the first time ever the species has been spotted in the region’s waters.

And the organisation said it is recording more unusual sightings of larger marine species than ever as fears grow over the mammals becoming stranded inshore.

Kirstin Smith, the trust’s North Sea marine advocacy manager, said: “It does seem quite unusual that we are seeing not only larger species closer to the shore, but bigger species stranded more often.

“Last year we had two fin whales and a sei whale stranded in the Humber.

“We are seeing bigger groups offshore, such as minke whales, and we had reports of two porpoises swimming up the River Ouse.

“Killer whales were spotted near Filey recently and bottlenose dolphins were spotted near Scarborough - both types of species you don’t tend to associate with the North Sea.”

Ms Smith blamed the unusual activity on climate change, which is believed to have caused migration patterns across the world to have been affected.

He told the Yorkshire Post that the trust was currently monitoring the situation to see how it developed.

“As you see more ice caps melting it causes changes in the current stream, which changes the flow of food patterns.

“The big species tend to eat fish and squid and chase them along what ever route they follow.

“That seems to be what’s bringing them inshore.

“The concern is we don’t want to see them stranded because the likelihood of survival is quite low.”

Earlier this month, the Yorkshire Post revealed a young 14ft minke whale had been found washed up dead at Spurn Point.

It had been spotted by fishermen on the Humber Estuary side of the peninsula and had suffered serious trauma to its side and head but until the results of a biopsy, carried out by British Divers Marine Life Rescue, are analysed, the cause of death will not be known.

The sad end for the whale follows similar strandings, including a fin whale which washed up dead on the peninsula last autumn, followed a week later by a sei whale found between Skeffling and Welwick, a few miles to the north of Spurn Point.