Wildlife photographer ‘in tears’ after spotting killer orca whales off scottish coast following four day search

A wildlife photographer on an expedition off the coast of the world-famous John O ‘Groats was reduced to tears after she finally spotted a pair of killer whales.

Footage shows Rosie Barrett, 25, break down as she spotted multiple orcas in the Scottish coastal waters from the deck of a hastily booked ferry. Rosie switches back and forth from the orcas in the water, to then capture her emotional reaction where she is seen tearing up.

She explained that she had been on the lookout for orcas for FOUR days with no luck – up until this point – due to bad weather.



Footage shows Rosie Barrett break down as she spotted multiple orcas in the Scottish coastal waters
Footage shows Rosie Barrett break down as she spotted multiple orcas in the Scottish coastal waters

Rosie said: “We had been having a lot of bad weather so as I had about a week off. I decided to travel to John o ‘Groats in the very north of Scotland to try and spot some orca having heard about lots of great sightings from the event Orcawatch.

“After four days, I received a shout from a Facebook group that there were orcas near where I was already filming seabirds for my YouTube channel. I ran over a cliff to join a crowd of people watching Orca out at sea. I couldn’t believe they were there.

“I was messaging my colleague about the sighting and he suggested I try and get a ferry trip out with John O ‘Groats ferries.” I ran to the ferry office and bought a ticket knowing that this was a risk as the Orca could easily move. quickly out of the area.

“I was the only passenger on the ferry as we were picking up guests from Orkney on the other side.

“On the way over, I was looking out for the big dorsal fins of the orca and after about fifteen minutes of no sightings. I didn’t think it was going to happen.” Suddenly, to the left of the ferry, I spotted two dorsal fins coming out of the water and i immediately signaled to the skipper. “He did everything he could to make sure I could take photos of the Orca.

“He stopped the boat and we waited until they came to us and we saw them pop up a few times before we had to head off.” I was overwhelmed with excitement and emotion and wanted to document this through filming.

“After taking photos and sending them off to my colleague, they managed to identify them as individuals ‘Hulk’ and ‘Nott’, using the ‘Scottish Killer Whale Photo ID Catalog’ that he is a co-author of.”

Rosie is a self-taught wildlife photographer and filmmaker who originally hails from Benfleet in Essex, but now lives in Scotland’s Gairloch, where she also works for Hebridean Whale Cruises.

Her passion for documenting wildlife started six years ago and carries on to this day as she continues to travel around the country capturing pictures and videos of animals both on land and in the sea.

She has even been shortlisted for the Natural History Museum’s ‘Rising Star’ award for 2022.

Rosie said: “I have always loved animals since a young age as I grew up with many around me. My Nan was always into her wildlife and this resonated with me too.

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“Growing up watching David Attenborough documentaries and Deadly 60, with Steve Backshall, were also a massive part of my journey in inspiring me to be doing what I am today.”

Rosie boasts of photographing animals such as deer, otters, kingfishers, seals, pine martens on land, and even more in the sea, which include basking sharks, humpback whales, and leatherback turtles.

She added: “I have been doing wildlife photography for around six years or so.” Every year, I sell wildlife calendars and prints which is something else I love to share with others.

“I want to inspire and educate others through sharing my images and films which is something that brings me so much joy and excitement.”

“The UK is home to a small number of resident orcas, which frequent the waters in northern Scotland.

“Orcas are usually found in UK waters. I wouldn’t say they are rare, however, it is not something you will see every day.” We are incredibly lucky that we get many different pods coming from overseas that are seasonable visitors and they are mostly around the Shetlands, Orkney, and the north coast of Scotland.

“We also have the West Coast community Pod with famous members ‘John Coe’ and ‘Aquarius’.

“At this time of year, there are definitely more frequent sightings, but it is still something that can require luck!” Further footage captured by Rosie shows her onboard the ferry, where she spots more orcas, three days after the original video. She added: “I had been suffering with my mental health and I needed to get out into nature.

“Nothing makes me feel better than when I am out surrounded by wildlife.” I will never forget the moment that I saw my first orca back in 2018 with Basking Shark Scotland and I had dreamed of having that incredible feeling again as orca are so spectacular creatures to see in the wild.

“The emotion completely overwhelmed me when I realized that the hard work and perseverance to push through the mental health problems led to seeing something so amazing.”

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