No fluke as skipper Peter snaps a rare minke whale picture

Peter Christian's picture of a minke whale breaching in the Irish Sea. INLT 24-615-CON
Peter Christian's picture of a minke whale breaching in the Irish Sea. INLT 24-615-CON

A RARE sighting of an eight-ton minke whale breaching in the Irish Sea is creating quite a stir.

Snapped by Peter Christian on board the Islandmagee-based rigid inflatable bloat (RIB) North Irish Diver, the photo has experts at the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group puzzled, because minkes don’t usually breach in local waters.

Peter was skippering the fast-charter RIB on the way back to Islandmagee from the Isle of Man TT on Friday, when the 26ft (eight metres) whale was spotted. It breached eight or nine times, sometimes very close to the boat, but the conditions were not great for photography and Peter’s picture was taken through the screen on the boat.

However, Peter Steele of North Irish Diver Ltd is confident the whale is a minke because it has a distinctive white patch on its pectoral fin.

“It is rare for minke whales to be caught breaching in these waters, as they are normally much more sedate,” Peter explained.

“It is thought that breaching could be associated with a number of reasons: a demonstration of power; trying to stun its prey; trying to dislodge parasites; or playful behaviour,” he added.