Rare sei whale seen with paddleboarders near Portobello

A rare whale has been spotted swimming alongside paddleboarders near an Edinburgh beach.

The sei whale is an internationally protected species due to its diminishing numbers.

Another sei whale died on a South Queensferry beach in October after becoming stranded there following Storm Babet.

However, nature enthusiasts said the mammal looked at ease in its surroundings near Portobello beach.

Ken Thomas was able to take several photographs of the whale, having travelled from Dalkeith to try and see it on Sunday.

He said: "It was an amazing sight. I've seen other types of whales before, like a humpback, but this was the first time I've seen a sei.

"The word had got around pretty quickly about it, so there were a lot of people there trying to see it, and shouting out where it seemed to be in the water, as it can move at such great distances.

"It seemed very at ease there though, as no-one was wanting to do anything that might upset it."

Sei whales have been classed as endangered since 1996, following a large number of deaths from the 1950s to the 1970s due to commercial whaling exploitation.

More than 200,000 of the whales were believed to have been killed in the southern hemisphere alone in that period.

A sei whale was also washed ashore at Dalgety Bay in Fife in November 2021.

'Prey is in abundance'

However, Lyndsay MacNeill, who runs the Firth of Forth Whales and Dolphins Facebook group, believes it is too early to determine if the sightings are becoming more common in Scotland.

She said: "The sei whales seen in the Forth are the only ones seen around Scotland, so I wouldn't say they are becoming more common.

"Nobody knows yet if they are getting lost here, coming in unwell or trying to look for food.

"Whale sightings in general are increasing around Scottish coasts but the whales we see more frequently now, such as the humpback whale, is because their prey is in abundance and that's what is drawing them in."