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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 November 2006, 17:09 GMT
RAF make 'rare' whales sighting
Whales in Moray Firth (Pic: RAF)
The pod of whales was spotted five miles offshore
An RAF search and rescue crew has captured rare footage of a pod of deep diving whales while training over the Moray Firth.

The large marine mammals were spotted five miles offshore, north of Spey Bay, at the weekend.

The helicopter crew from RAF Lossiemouth in Moray were on a regular training trip.

Expert Charlie Phillips said they may have been sperm or northern bottlenose whales - both rare sightings.

RAF spokesman Michael Mulford said the helicopter crew counted a pod of nine whales, which they filmed from a distance so they did not frighten them.

The Moray Firth is better known for its bottlenose dolphins.

Catch squid

Mr Phillips, of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, confirmed the crew had made an unusual sighting.

He said: "It would be rare for these large animals to be in shallow water.

"They could be sperm whales or northern bottlenose, which are known as abyssal feeders."

The mammals get the name because they dive to depths of 1,000ft to catch squid, he said.

Mr Phillips, who is based in Inverness, said they were likely to have been a pod of young males.

The whales are more commonly seen in the Atlantic and female sperm whales breed in the Azores.

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