Whales gone....almost, but dolphins to be seen inshore.

9th Feb 2006 It does look like the large baleen whales, notably fin whales, have now left the Irish south coast, but there are plenty of other whale watching opportunities for those prepared to put in the effort.

Despite the settled, dry weather over the past few weeks, the easterly airflow brought us quite choppy seas and poor visibility, making conditions quite unsuitable for land-based watches and indeed boat based observations. These easterlies have now been replaced by cold and clear, light northerlies, bringing calm seas which are ideal for whale-watching.

As there have been no fin or humpback whale sightings in the past month from any of the Cork or Waterford hotspots, our feeling is that the whales have left their winter feeding grounds, as the herring and sprat spawning season is over. During the past week IWDG personnel assisted in BIM acoustic, “pinger” trials on common dolphins between West Cork and East Waterford, during which we had plenty of common dolphin encounters, but not a single whale species was observed.

The good news however is that there are plenty of other species to be seen, as in the past 24 hours alone, two killer whales have been reported by Alan O' Grady off Caher Island, Nr Inishturk, Co. Mayo on 8th Feb. These are likely to be the same two, an adult male and female or juvenile, that we have featured in the past two issues of IWDG News from Rathlin O' Beirne Island, Co. Donegal and off the Outer Hebrides, Scotland.

On the same day, 8th Feb common dolphins were reported at the mouth of Cork Harbour between Roche's Pt. and Fennel's Bay, while today 9th Feb both bottlenose and common dolphins have been confirmed inside Bantry Bay, towards Whiddy Island.

So, as ever, make the most of the suitable weather and grab your binoculars and head out for a watch. But please don't forget to report your sightings and indeed strandings to us on www.iwdg.ie

Good Luck

Breaking news 13:45 9 Feb.....at least three fin whales just reported by Andrew Malcolm during an “effort watch” off Ram Head, Ardmore, Co. Waterford, they are blowing to his west off Capel Island, Nr. Youghal, so guess that makes it another record for Cork. Sorry Waterford!