Controversial Fáilte Ireland Tourism Advert19th Apr 2007 Update....
1 May 2007: We note with interest that the text appearing on this ad has been changed to reflect our concerns about the the ad's inaccuracy....it now reads "Wildlife in Kerry", as against "Humpback whales in Kerry". But the image still clearly shows a composite image of a Southern right whale breaching off the Kerry coast.
19 April 2007
This week's Discover Ireland launch of an advert promoting leisure tourism activities in Ireland has caused quite a stir, with stunning footage of what is clearly a right whale breaching, apparently off the Kerry coast!
The advert which can be viewed on http://www.ireland.ie/Video_holder.html, states that this is a humpback whale and implies it is off the Kerry coast. It is clearly one of the two right whale species, and most likely one filmed in the Southern hemisphere.
While we congratulate Fáilte Ireland for promoting whalewatching in Ireland, we regret that their advert contains mis-information and might only raise an unrealistic expectation. While you can regularly see whales and dolphins off the Kerry coast and there have been ten sightings of humpback whales in the past two years, there are currently no whalewatching operators listed in Co. Kerry on the www.discoverireland.ie website. Two operators are available in Co. Cork and two in Co. Clare (watching dolphins in the Shannon Estuary). The only whale/dolphin watching opportunity in Co. Kerry is limited to trips to see Fungi in Dingle Bay.
The IWDG have been actively promoting whale-watching since 1993, when we initiated the Shannon Dolphin project. We hope this advert will encourage people to go whalewatching in Ireland, but the IWDG want to clarify that there have been no sightings of right whales (Southern or Northern) anywhere close to the Kerry coast in living memory. The right whale is practically extinct in the North Atlantic. To see right whales in the North Atlantic you would be advised to travel to the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia, Canada.
In recent weeks, the relatively common minke whale, which is the smallest of the baleen whales, has been observed by several IWDG members while carrying out land-based watches off Slea Head, Co. Kerry. There is extensive information on the IWDG website documenting these sightings as they are reported to us.
Humpback and fin whales are regularly seen off the Irish south and southwest coasts from June to February. Sightings peak between late autumn and winter, depending on where you are along the Irish south coast. In recent years these sightings have spread from west Cork to Waterford/Wexford and Kery and even Clare. This might be due to increased recording, but we do think populations of these species are increasing in the North Atlantic and occurring more frequently in Irish waters.
To observe fin and humpback whales we recommend you join one of the whalewatching operators in west Cork during late summer and autumn. The Waterford coast would be the place to go in late winter, where this year they were seen up to the end of February. The IWDG website contains an image gallery of all the fin and humpback whales which have been photo-identified to date off the Irish south coast. In the past three years we have catalogued 25 fin and six humpback whales, several individuals have returned to the west Cork coast year after year.
If you are interested in learning more about whales and dolphins and whale-watching in Irish waters, why not consider joining the IWDG on one of their three whale-watching weekend courses on C