Giant humpback whale living in Firth of Forth vanishes after getting entangled in fishing gear

A giant humpback whale that has proved popular with locals after making its home in the Firth of Forth has recently vanished.

The stunning marine animal is thought to have survived getting entangled in fishing gear in the new year but may now have left the estuary.

The whale got caught in ropes over the festive period with onlookers having spotted cuts to its tail stock and dorsal ridge on New Years Day.

Lyndsay McNeill, who maintains the Scottish Humpback Catalogue which helps identify individual whales, believes it was most likely these were caused by the whale becoming entangled in rope, but that they were not believed to be serious injuries.

The whale appeared in the Firth of Forth in December last year and proved a hit with locals who took to the Fife and Edinburgh shores to catch a glimpse.

Following a string of appearances on January 1, there have been no further sightings of the humpback.

Ms McNeill said: "This juvenile humpback is here feeding on sprat and herring.

"This is the sixth year we have had them visit us in winter, photographers took images captured on New Year's Day showing injuries to tail stock and dorsal ridge that weren't there the day before.

"We believe this was caused by entanglement and the humpback has luckily got himself free.

"These injuries are superficial and there is no concern.

"The whale already had old scarring from what Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme has said is from fishing gear.

"A study done in Iceland said around 50 percent of humpbacks had entanglement scars.

"This whale appeared here malnourished on December 2 but has gained substantial weight and fortunately the injuries are superficial.

"Humpbacks are not just at risk of entanglement in UK waters, this is a global issue and ropeless creels are the way forward which is why we are working with fishermen who do not want to see this happen as much as us whale watchers."