Humpback whales still in Dingle Bay Updated

3rd Oct 2006 On saturday 23 September, a humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) was spotted in Dingle Bay by IWDG member, Nick Massett. This is the second time this summer that this species has been recorded here, the previous one being the juvenile humpback on the 14 and 15 July, which later stranded in Inverin, Co. Galway. Nick's account of the recent sighting follows;

''Went out to Slea Head for a quick scan at 16.30 on 23rd Sept with the sea state 2 and great clarity in the air. At 16.45 I observed a very large group of diving gannets in the middle of Dingle Bay with common dolphins feeding underneath. In the middle of this melee a bushy blow appeared and the unmistakeable back of a humpback whale.

Three more blows followed in quick succesion before the animal fluked and was down for only a minute or two before surfacing again in the midst of the commons. The dolphins were as good as bow riding the humpback, it was all very dramatic. Over the course of the next three hours this whole feeding frenzy traversed the bay ending up very close to the Iveragh Peninsula shoreline some seven miles away.

The humpback fluked numerous times, was waving its pectoral fin around for a while at one point and it was often lungefeeding on the surface with the commons in attendance throughout.

The next morning the humpback was observed approx six miles south of Slea Head again under a large group of gannets but without the commons. It stayed roughly in this area for five hours until 13.00 when we lost track of it.''

The whale was still in the area as of this morning (25 Sept.)

Mick O'Connell

Postscript

Pádraig Whooley writes that at the same time in the waters off Galley Head, West Cork during a whale watch trip with Colin Barnes, at least three fin whales were observed, two of which were photo identified. It is interesting that we have both humpback and fin whales simultaneously in two neighbouring counties.

Alas the weather is due to break today 26th Sept for much of the remainder of the week, and the message as always is to make the most of those gaps in the unsettled Atlantic systems of recent weeks.

UPDATE: On Monday 2 October Nick saw at least 2 perhaps 3 humpbacks, 6 miles south of Slea Head. IWDG ShOPs co-ordinator, Dave Wall, observed a humpback whale breaching in Dingle bay early on the morning of the 3 October. He also reported many sightings of minke whales.

Simon Berrow