Wildlife photographer ‘crying’ after spotting killer orcas off the Scottish coast after a four-day search

Wildlife photographer on an expedition off the coast of world-famous John O’ Grouts breaks into tears after she finally discovers a pair of… killer whales.

The footage shows Rosie Barrett, 25, breaking down when she spotted several orcas in Scottish coastal waters from the deck of a hastily booked ferry. Rosie moves back and forth from orcas in the water, catching her emotional reaction as she is seen tearing up.

She explained that she had been searching for orcas for four days with no luck – until this moment – due to bad weather.

Footage shows Rosie Barrett breaking down when she spotted several orcas in Scottish coastal waters
Footage shows Rosie Barrett breaking down when she spotted several orcas in Scottish coastal waters

Rosie said: ‘We were having 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 some orca after hearing about a lot of great sights from the Orcawatch event.

“Four days later, I got a shout out from a Facebook group that there were orca whales near where I was already filming seabirds for my YouTube channel. I ran up a cliff to join the crowd watching the Orca at sea. I couldn’t believe they were there.

“I was texting a colleague about the vision and he suggested I try to go on a ferry ride with John o’ Groats phrases.” I ran to the ferry office and bought a ticket knowing this was a risk as Orca could easily move quickly out of the area.

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

“On the way, I was looking for the big dorsal fins of an orca and after about fifteen minutes of no watching. I didn’t think that would happen.” Suddenly, to the left of the ferry, I noticed two dorsal fins sticking out of the water and immediately signaled to the captain. “He did everything he could to make sure I could take pictures of the Orca.

“He stopped the boat and waited until they came to us and we saw them show up a few times before we had to leave.” I was overwhelmed with excitement and emotion and wanted to document that through photography.

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

Rosie is a self-taught photographer and wildlife photographer, who originally hails from Benfleet in Essex, but now lives 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 taking photos and videos of animals on land and at sea.

She has also been nominated for the 2022 Natural History Museum’s ‘Rising Star’ Award.

Rosie said, “I have always loved animals from a young age as I grew up with many around me. My Nan has always been in the wild and this resonated with me too.

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“Growing up watching David Attenborough documentaries and Deadly 60, with Steve Backshall, has also been a huge part of my journey in inspiring me to do what I am today.”

Rosie takes pride in photographing animals such as deer, otters, kingfish, seals, pinefish on land, and more at sea, which includes basking sharks, humpback whales, and leatherback turtles.

“I’ve been photographing wildlife for about six years or so,” she added. This has now prompted me to pursue and present filmmaking, something I also want to delve into more of in the coming years. Every year, I sell wildlife calendars and prints which is another thing I love to share with others.

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

“The UK is home to a small resident orca population, who frequent the waters of northern Scotland.

“Orcas are usually found in UK waters. I wouldn’t say they are rare, however, they are not something you will see every day.” We are very fortunate to have had so many different pods coming in from overseas that are seasonal visitors and are often around the Shetland and Orkney Islands and the north coast of Scotland.

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

“This time of year, there are definitely more hits, but it still takes luck!” Other footage taken by Rosie on the ferry, where she spotted more orca, appears three days after the original video. She added, “I was struggling with my mental health and needed to get out in nature.

“Nothing makes me feel better than when I’m outside surrounded by wildlife.” I will never forget the moment I saw my first orca in 2018 with Basking Shark Scotland, and was dreaming of having that amazing feeling again as orca are so amazing creatures to see in the wild.

“I was completely overwhelmed with emotion when I realized that hard work and perseverance to overcome mental health issues led to seeing something so amazing.”

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