Orca pod sparks warning over threat to Moray Firth

Orca pod in the Moray Firth this week (Pic: North 58 Sea Adventures)
Orca pod in the Moray Firth this week (Pic: North 58 Sea Adventures)

THE POD OF Orcas that enchanted whale and dolphin watchers along the Moray coastline in the last week may be put at grave risk if ship-to-ship oil transfers are given the go-ahead.

That is the view expressed by Green MSP John Finnie, who has been at the forefront of the campaign to block the plans put forward by the Cromarty Firth Port Authority.

Their license application to commence such transfers in open water on the Moray Firth, despite warnings of the catastrophic environment impact such an action can place on the entire Moray coastline, is being strongly opposed by groups in Moray and throughout the Highlands.

The application is presently being considered by the UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency – now, as a decision is awaited, Mr Finnie has, with many others, admired the arrival of Killer Whales on the Moray Firth.

However, they have also prompted a reminder from the MSP of the fragile balance between the requirements of man and nature.

He said: “The sighting of these extraordinary animals is a reminder of how precious the environment of the Moray Firth is, both for its wildlife and for its people.

“Oil transfers are already carried out safely in the relative shelter of Nigg harbour – there’s no need to put our Firth in danger with risky ship-to-ship transfers in the open sea.

“I’m trying to find out whether the Scottish Government understands the threat to the orcas and the whole Firth ecosystem. If it does, I hope new Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham will break the silence that her predecessor inexplicably maintained on the issue, and join the opposition to the proposal.

“The Moray Firth is one of Scotland’s most important marine habitats. As well as orcas and our iconic bottlenose dolphins, it is an important area for seabirds, wading birds, seals and otters.

“It’s a vital fishery and a centre for the production of shellfish. It’s an excellent location for windsurfing, kayaking and other water sports. All that is in danger if we allow oil transfers to go ahead.

“Greens MSPs have beaten ship-to-ship plans once before, in the Firth of Forth. With your help we can do it again: please sign the petition at .”

As reported by insideMoray earlier this week, the sighting of the pod of six Killer Whales to the north west of Findhorn sparked national and international interest.

Stunning images of the Pod were taken by Findhorn-based adventure company North 58 Sea Adventures after they were tipped off by local Sea Watch volunteers at Burghead.