By Jos Weale
A mighty killer whale was snapped tossing a seal high into mid-air with a flick of its huge tail fin as it toyed with its prey off the Scottish coastline.
The incredible photograph shows the hapless seal suspended in the sky after being flung out of the water by the hungry orca’s magnificent tail, which is still arched and protruding from the water.
Billy Arthur caught the perfectly-timed pic of the ‘poor seal’ near Levenwick, Shetland Islands on Monday evening (July 24).
And the keen amateur snapper says the moment lasted for a split second before the seal descended back into the water to meet its end.
Billy, from Dunrossness, Shetland Islands, said: “It’s a huge animal making its way through the water with such grace.
“I think you do think a bit like, ‘poor seal’, but it’s a part of nature. Seals are beautiful animals to watch too, I love watching them under the water.
“You see that happening on nature programmes, but it’s just great seeing that for yourself. It’s one of those things you hope you might see.
“They came right in, and they weren’t really batting the seal around. They usually make the kill underwater.
“But they were getting more exciting, you knew they were pulling in a general direction. We were watching them pretty closely.
“Then there was just a big smash when it threw it right up into the air. The seal just went up the once. It’s hard to describe.
“It’s just a matter of one split second and pressing the shutter down. It really is just the right place at the right time.
“There was a gasp from the crowd watching, about 20 people, and there were children there too so they were excited.
“I couldn’t get to sleep that night I was so excited about witnessing it.”
Billy, who works for Scottish Sea Farms, says he had been itching to see the impressive whales all day while at work after spotting a message on social media announcing the animals were hugging the coastline.
And he says when he finally reached the spot he was far from disappointed.
Billy said: “There was a local social media group that shared the message that the orcas were there. People in the area are quite good for spreading the word when they’re there.
“Sometimes you don’t see them for a few weeks. They started on the north east side, and they hug the coast.
“The spot I saw them at was near Levenwick. There are quite few seals at the bay there. It’s a healthy place for wildlife.
“I was in work during the day so I was champing at the bit to get going. I probably got there just before 6pm, and stayed until just after 9pm.
“The message had got round about them being there so there were a lot of people there following them around the coast.
“When this was going on there was also a second pod further down too. “It’s quite astounding.
And Billy, who is a keen underwater photographer, claims seeing the whales in real life is an unforgettable experience for anyone.
Billy said: “It was definitely a highlight of what I’ve seen so far doing wildlife photography. And it’s a great advert for the Shetland Islands too.
“I saw them last year in the same spot. That was the first time I saw them.
“It’s a pretty magical experience. Once you’re up that close, it’s addictive.”