Charity experts explain why a humpback whale was spotted off Brighton beach

Gary Rice came up close and personal with a humpback whale near Brighton <i>(Image: Gary Rice)</i>
Gary Rice came up close and personal with a humpback whale near Brighton (Image: Gary Rice)

A conservation charity has explained the possible reason a humpback whale was near Brighton this week.

Thea Taylor, head of Sussex Dolphin Project, said such a sighting in the area is rare and explained why the whale might have been passing through the county’s waters.

Her explanation came after commercial fisherman Gary Rice came up close and personal to a humpback whale on Monday.

The 69-year-old was off the coast near Brighton Marina chatting to a friend, who was in another boat, when he saw the animal coming straight towards them.

He said he was “shocked” and “surprised” to see the huge mammal and described the sighting as an “amazing experience”.

Ms Taylor said the whale will have been making its migration journey to warmer climates.

"Seeing humpback whales this close to the Brighton coastline is very unusual, but there may be a simple reason for its appearance,” she said.

“At this time of year, humpback whales migrate from their summer and autumn feeding grounds back down to the tropical regions.

“They usually head down the west coast of the UK and Ireland, but this one may have taken a slightly different approach down the east coast of the country, which would explain why it was spotted near the Dover area before heading through the channel past Sussex.

“We hope it will now continue heading West toward Cornwall and get back on course out into the open ocean."