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Humpback whale spotted off the coast of Cornwall

Hannah Jones/Facebook/PA Wire

By Megan Baynes, PA

A humpback whale was seen off the coast of Cornwall over the weekend.

A local tour boat company encountered the whale which swam under their boat while feeding on sandeels in the area.

Hannah Jones, co-owner of Marine Discovery Penzance, noticed a swell in the water while out on a wildlife-spotting trip on Saturday morning.

She said: "We had already spotted seals, blue fin tuna, harbour porpoises and minke whales, so it had been a really successful trip. But it was such a clear day and I noticed a change in the water.

"So we motored over slowly and we saw the whale feeding.

"The mood on the boat was just speechless awe."

The whale was feeding on fish approximately eight miles (13km) off the coast of Penzance and at one point swam underneath the Marine Discovery boat.

An endangered species, it is estimated there are between 10,000 and 15,000 humpback whales worldwide.

Distributed across the world, humpback whales mate and calve in tropical waters during the winter before travelling to cold, polar waters during the summer to feed. They travel through UK waters as part of migration routes between North America and the Caribbean.

In recent years the creatures have been spotted near northern Scotland, but their visits are still extremely rare.

Ms Jones said: "This was the first prolonged feeding activity we have seen on a trip.

"We have been running trips for 15 years and this is our fourth sighting. However, we only operate for seven months a year due to weather restraints, and more humpbacks are being seen from the shore in late winter when we're not out on the water.

"The fact we are seeing more could be proof that conservation efforts have worked - whaling was banned in the 1980s and humpback whales are a real success story."

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