An extremely rare whale has been spotted off the coast of Scotland for the second time this year.
A Sei whale – which can grow up to 50 feet long – was seen from the Tiumpan Lighthouse on the Isle of Lewis on Wednesday.
There have only been around ten sightings of the whale in Scotland in the last 50 years but one was also spotted at Whitehouse Bay, South Queensferry in April.
It was seen swimming in the Firth of Forth by onlookers who enjoyed watching the giant animal from as close as 20 metres.
Watchers reported being able to see the whale for nearly two hours in its most recent appearance.
The sighting was recorded to the Hebrides and NW Scotland Cetaceans Sightings group by Steve Dodd.
Sei whales are rarely seen in Scotland as they prefer deeper offshore waters.
They have a long thin body, which is dark grey, making them easy to confuse with fin whales – the world’s second biggest creature after the blue whale.
Sei whales tend to travel alone or in pairs and are one of the fastest of the rorqual whales, reaching speeds of up to 30 miles per hour.
They feed in cool temperate waters in the summer and are believed to migrate to the warmer subtropics for winter.
The species became a target for whalers in the 1970s and they were made a protected species in 1976.
Information on the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust website said the distribution of the whales is ‘unpredictable and poorly understood’.
It added: ‘They occur throughout all major oceans worldwide, except the polar regions, although they are known for their sudden influxes to an area and subsequent disappearances…They are rarely seen in Hebridean waters and reports include stranded animals.’
Tiumpan Head is said to be one of the best spots in Europe to see cetaceans from land and there have been calls for a whale and dolphin centre to be established on the island.