Benfleet Photographer Reveals the Moment She Spotted Killer Whales

A WILDLIFE photographer on an expedition off the famous John o’ Groats was reduced to tears after finally spotting a pair of killer whales.

Footage shows Rosie Barrett, 25, collapsing after spotting several killer whales in Scottish coastal waters from the deck of a hastily booked ferry.

Rosie back and forth orcas in the water, only to capture her emotional reaction where she is seen tearing up.

She explained that she had been searching for orcas for FOUR days without success – so far – due to bad weather.

Rosie said: “We had had a lot of bad weather so I had about a week off.

“I decided to travel to John o’ Groats in the far north of Scotland to try and spot killer whales after hearing about many interesting sightings during the Orcawatch event.

“After four days I got a shout out from a Facebook group saying there were killer whales near where I was already filming seabirds for my YouTube channel.

“I ran over a cliff to join a crowd of people watching Orca at sea. I couldn’t believe they were there.

“I was messaging my colleague about the sighting and he suggested I try a ferry trip with John o’ Groats ferries.

“I ran to the ferry office and bought a ticket knowing it was a risk as the Orca could easily get out of the area quickly.

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

“On the way I was looking for the large dorsal fins of the orca and after about fifteen minutes without sighting. I didn’t think this was going to happen.

“Suddenly, to the left of the ferry, I spotted two dorsal fins sticking out of the water and immediately waved to the skipper.

“He did everything so that I could take pictures of the Orca.

“He stopped the boat and we waited for them to come to us and we saw them appear several times before we had to leave.

“I was overwhelmed with excitement and emotion and wanted to document that through filming.


“After taking pictures and sending them to my colleague, he managed to identify them as ‘Hulk’ and ‘Nott’ individuals, using the ‘Scottish Killer Whale Photo ID Catalogue’ which he co-authored .”

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

Her passion for documenting wildlife began six years ago and continues to this day as she continues to travel across the country capturing photos and videos of animals on land and in the sea.

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

Rosie said: “I’ve always loved animals from a young age as I grew up with lots of people around me.

“My Nan has always been into her wildlife and that resonated with me too.

“Growing up watching David Attenborough and Deadly 60 documentaries, starring Steve Backshall, was also an important part of my journey in inspiring me to be who I am today.”

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

She added, “I’ve been doing wildlife photography for about six years.

“It led me to pursue filmmaking and presenting, which I also want to delve into further in the years to come.

“Every year I sell calendars and animal prints, which I like to share with others.

“I want to inspire and educate others by sharing my images and films, which brings me so much joy and excitement.”

The UK is home to a small number of resident killer whales, which frequent the waters of northern Scotland.

“Orcas are usually found in UK waters. I wouldn’t say they’re rare, however, it’s not something you’ll see every day.

“We are incredibly lucky to have many different groups from overseas who are seasonal visitors and they are mainly around Shetlands, Orkney and the North Coast of Scotland.

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

“At this time of year, there are certainly more frequent sightings, but it’s still something that can take some luck!”

Other footage captured by Rosie shows her on the ferry, where she sights more orcas, three days after the original video.

She added: “I was struggling with my mental health and needed to get out into nature.

“Nothing makes me feel better than when I’m surrounded by wildlife.

“I will never forget the moment I saw my first killer whale in 2018 with Basking Shark Scotland and I had dreamed of having that amazing feeling again as killer whales are such spectacular creatures to see in the wild.

“I was completely overwhelmed with emotion when I realized that hard work and persistence in overcoming mental health issues had led to seeing something so incredible.”

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