Humpback whale off Suffolk coast is 'first recorded sighting'

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Media captionThe humpback whale sighting was the first recorded in Suffolk

A humpback whale spotted off the Suffolk coast was the first recorded sighting of the species in the county, an expert says.

Staff at RSPB Minsmere near Dunwich saw the whale on Monday afternoon about one mile (1.5km) offshore.

Martin Sanford from the Suffolk Biological Records Centre said it was the first recorded sighting but it was possible others had been seen before.

He said there was always a "lot of argument" over what species is seen.

"That's why I can't say definitely it is the first to be seen off Suffolk," he said.

The whale sighting from Minsmere was five days after a humpback was spotted about two miles out to sea off the Norfolk coast.

'Whale put down'

Mr Sanford said the first recorded whale sighting in Suffolk was in 1568 when a shoal of killer whales swam up the River Orwell.

"There are four records of fin whales in the last 250 years, and minke whales have been washed up on the coast three times in the last 100 years," he said.

"A northern bottlenose whale swam under the Orwell Bridge in 2007."

The whale became beached under the bridge and had to be put down to prevent it suffering.

Last year a juvenile fin whale died after beaching at Shingle Street, further down the Suffolk coast from Minsmere.

Image caption The sighting of killer whales in Suffolk in 1568 was documented by Timothy Granger in a broadsheet at the time

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