Update on the travels of a young humpback whale

27th Apr 2007

The IWDG have just received an interesting report from Marie Ryan, Kilkee, Co. Clare, with supporting images, which help us piece together a missing piece of the jigsaw regarding the movements of the juvenile humpback whale which was originally observed by Nick Massett, IWDG member while filming in Inch, Co. Kerry with a BBC film crew on 14th July 2006.



The following day 15th July, it was observed by Mick O Connell, IWDG stranding co-ordinator, from Great Blasket, where it was repeatedly seen breaching in Blasket Sound and was seen later that day off Dunmore Head.

humpback whale calf on beach at Inverin

The next report was 21st July when Rory Thynne reported a dead whale as having stranded on a beach at Inverin, Co. Galway. On 23rd July Joanne O' Brien from GMIT positively identified it as a juvenile humpback whale. By comparing fluke shot images with the underwater grabs taken in Inch on 14th July, the IWDG could confirm this was the same individual.

It now appears that the young humpback had traveled a distance of 50 miles north up the Kerry and Clare coast in a 24 hour period, when Marie Ryan took a sequence of superb images of the young humpback breaching within 100m of the cliffs at Kilkee.

IWDG have recently published this account (Berrow, S. Massett, N. and O'Brien, J. (2006) Humpback whale Megaptera novaeangliae off Counties Kerry and Galway. Irish Naturalists Journal 28(8), 339-340, which we'll probably now amend, in light of the latest addendum to this saga. This account shows how effective recording schemes can be in improving our understanding of these animals, and their movements in our waters.