DRONE cameras have captured the beauty of fin whales feasting on krill off the coast of Barcelona, a ritual that occurs in the same waters every spring.

The extraordinary images filmed just a few miles off the Catalan coast show a pair of the vast marine mammals gracefully rising to the surface and releasing a puff of spray from their blowholes before sinking back below.

They return to waters just off the Garaff coast, south of Barcelona each spring to feast on krill and this year have arrived earlier than expected.

For conservationists who have been studying these marine mammals in the same stretch of waters since 2013, their reappearance was like welcoming back old friends.

“Of more than 132 whales observed, 10% have been seen in previous years,” said  Eduard Degollada, President of EDMAKTUB, and head of the Fin Whale Project.

He said each animal could be identified by distinctive markings on their heads.

The area of the Mediterranean between the Catalan coast and the Balearic Islands is a popular feeding ground for fin whales during spring.

Fins whales (Balaenoptera physalus) are the second largest whales after the Blue Whale and the largest found in Mediterranean waters. They can grow to lengths of above 24 meters (79 ft).

The WWF classifies the fin whale as an endangered species with a population estimated at between 50,000-90,000.

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