The whale watch operator Sea Life Surveys based on Mull has been covering areas of Hebridean waters since 1982 with the main focus being minke whales which arrive in the summer season to take advantage of the abundant food supplies. Part of Sea Life Surveys' work, along with taking groups out to experience the fantastic marine life, is research and photo identification work of minke whales by taking pictures of their back and dorsal fins which tend to have unique shapes, markings and nicks. This can help build a picture of individual behaviour and movements of the very much under-researched northern minke whale.
In 2002 a whale, encountered and photographed, was easy to distinguish because of its triangular shaped fin with a 'knobble' on top. There was only going to be one name for this newly-identified whale.
For the next eleven years" Knobble" would be recorded every season, apart from 2005, and generally seen in the same traditional feeding grounds. This was evidence of the whales being site-faithful every year after a potential migration of thousands of miles." Knobble" was a very sociable/inquisitive whale as cetaceans can be in general. He/she would quite often approach the Sea Life Surveys' vessel, giving everyone on board a great view.
In the 2013 season with Sea Life Surveys, Knobble was encountered 12 times from May to August and the most frequently sighted whale again. We got to the stage where his/her name would be mentioned constantly, even more so than orcas. Myself and fellow guides Ruth and Rabs got so aware of Knobble's dorsal fin shape that when he/she surfaced close enough, we could recognise it with the naked eye and immediately shout..."Knobble!"