Risso's dolphins arrive on cue off Wicklow Coast

21st May 2007 IWDG have just received a call 21/05/07 from Brendan Dillon, General Electric, who is working on the offshore windfarm at the Arklow Banks, Co. Wicklow, reporting a pod 7-8 Risso's dolphins (Grampus griseus). This heralds the start of the well-documented Wicklow inshore movement of this poorly understood, deep-water species.

Back around 2000, IWDG started receiving reports from Charlie Kavanagh, Sail Southeast, of this species in the Wicklow to Greystones area. We were sceptical....and we were wrong! Since then, the movements of this species have exhibited remarkable spatial and temporal trends.



In 2003 they were seen 23 times between 27th May- 27th July in Wicklow's inshore waters. In 2004 they were seen 16 times between 16th May -18th July. 2005 was a poor year for them with just 9 sightings between 7th May-20th July. Last year 2006 they were reported on 18 occasions between 12th May - 27th July. And now in 2007, our 1st sighting is 21st May.

Analysis of these dates show that in the past 5 years they have arrived on average within the same 9 day period between 7th - 27th May, and leave Wicklow's inshore waters during the same 6 day period between the 18th - 27th July. Now that's consistency for you.

Risso's dolphin, Arklow Banks, Wicklow 21/05/07

The good news for whale watchers/enthusiasts along the Dublin/Wicklow coast is that these sightings are often within close proximity to the shore, which can result in sightings from hotspots like Wicklow Head, Killoughter, the Breaches Kilcoole and Greystones. This is a great opportunity to view these dolphins, so we'd recommend giving your optics a scan in Wicklow's inshore waters.

So given that both the Wicklow Risso's dolphins and indeed the South coast Fin whales have arrived within the same 24 hour period, I think we can safely say that the whale watching season is now officially open for business. IWDG, as always, are delighted to bring these events to the publics attention, as they occur, but ask members of the public to reciprocate by passing any cetacean sightings on to the IWDG via our website www.iwdg.ie

Happy whale watching

Pádraig Whooley

Sightings Co-ordinator