It’s the commonest whale in Scottish waters, and if you take a wildlife-linked boat tour or summer ferry trip across some likely sea lanes, you could get a close view of a minke. Up to ten metres long, this superb sea creature is very much at home in the waters of the Hebrides and beyond.
What to look for
Watch for a large whaleback breaking the surface, with a very small dorsal fin on top. Minkes tend not to dally at the surface, and they don’t go in from the slo-mo, tail-aloft dives that you could expect from a humpback. They tend to emerge and submerge within a couple of seconds. But they may feed near the surface for a while, increasing the chance that you could get repeated sightings.
The minke whale is the one targeted by whalers in Norway and Iceland. But in these countries, income from whale watching is a much bigger money earner than the subsidised hunt. In Scotland, there’s no such conflict of interest - just excellent opportunities to enjoy the spectacle of one of the largest creatures you’re ever likely to see.
When and where to see
Summer is the time for Scottish minke watching. You could see them in the Hebrides from late May onwards, but they tend to be more numerous and watchable after mid-summer. Best minke-watching areas of all are between Mull and Ardnamurchan, out to Tiree and Coll and in the waters of the Minch. Take accredited wildlife boat tours from Tobermory or travel the ferries between Mallaig, Arisaig, Eigg, Muck and Canna or Ullapool to Stornoway and Uig to Tarbet.
For more information see theMinke Whale