Big whales starting to return in numbers

29th Nov 2005 It looks like the inshore movement of large baleen whales may be building up a head of steam along the Irish south coast.

Land based effort watches by Andrew Malcolm from Ram Head, Ardmore, Co. Waterford produced a range of 5-8 fin whales on both Sun & Mon., 27th & 28th Nov. Some whales were close enough inshore to be visible with the naked eye, although optics were needed to view most of them.

This activity appears to be extending to the usual West Cork hotspots, with multiple fin whale sightings from places like Sands Cove, nr Ardfield and Galley Head area.

At the same time they've been observed most days now by operator, Colin Barnes, who had 3 fin whales close inshore during an angling charter on Sunday in the area south of High Island. While another pelagic on Mon. 28th Nov. in the inshore waters between Galley Head and the Stags produced an impressive 10-12 fin whales.

So we know there were at least 17 fin whales between Waterford and Cork yesterday, from just two locations where effort watches were carried out. God only knows what the actual number is? But this time last year were were achieving daily tallies of 30-50 fin whales, so things may only be warming up.

Although they've yet to be confirmed, it is likely that there are some humpback whales among these large rorqual cousins, as suggested by a number of very low bushy blows picked up close to Galley Head on Mon. morning.

So keep watching those isobars if you're thinking of travelling to the Irish South coast for some world class whale watching. Again, if fortunate enough to observe cetaceans in Irish waters, we'd ask you to report them to us at

Hot off the press 16:00, 29th Nov., Nic Slocum, Whale Watch West Cork, has just reported seeing 5-6 fin whales from his house while scoping. The distances range from 5-9 miles south of Castletownshend, and they are split into several small groups.