Whale Watching doesn't get much better!

23rd Aug 2007 An improvement in the weather which has blighted Summer 2007, was the excuse we needed to book a place with Colin Barnes on the MV Holly Jo on Wed 22nd Aug to continue our Fin whale photo ID study. It turned out to be a good move.


As you are by now aware, we've been encountering fin whales in West Cork since they were 1st reported on 7/08/07 from Cape Clear Is. by Steve Wing (CCBO) and off Seven Heads by Pete Wolsenholme. A quick search on our mapping facility on www.iwdg.ie will show that they've been seen on a near daily basis by either land based whale watchers or those who have booked commercial whale watching trips.

Fin whale Head West Cork 220807 © Padraig Whooley, IWDG

We had more cetacean encounters during the day than we could list here, these comprised: harbour porpoise, common dolphins, minke and fin whale. But the really calm conditions provided superb photo ID opportunites.

Thankfully on the fin whale front we managed to get some nice images of #FWIRl 2 "Scar" showing not only his Scar but other unique marks which tell him apart from the other 27 fin whales now on the Irish Fin Whale Catalogue.

Fin whale, Scar 220807 © Padraig Whooley, IWDG

By the afternoon trip " Scar" and its travelling companion, whom we've yet to identify, were joined by a minke whale, and much as we tried, we failed to secure any images of both species in the same frame, although we did come tantalisingly close. But it was very interesting to see both Balaenopterids within a few hundred meters of one another, and we'd love to know what exactly the nature of this interaction was. But it really gave an excellent idea as to just how vastly different both species are.

Minke whale, 220807 W Cork © Padraig Whooley, IWDG

Of course the most difficult cetacean species to photograph and document is the smallest and the sea conditons were so superb that we even managed a few images of "Ireland's smallest whale", the harbour porpoise. Harbour porpoise, 220807 W Cork © Padraig Whooley, IWDG

Anyway, the whale watching is currently superb in West Cork and along the Irish South coast and we'd urge anyone interested to head out to our cliffs and headlands for a sea watch and to report any cetacean sightings to IWDG. For more information on commercial whale watch operators visit www.iwdg.ie (whale watching section and click on operators)

Thanks for all your support for our conservation work by continuing to report your sightings to IWDG, who are dedicated to the conservation of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) in Irish waters.

A big thanks to IWDG members Daniel Lettice and Ian Slevin for their contributions in recent days. All images above were taken from the MV Holly Jo, skippered by Colin Barnes.

Pádraig Whooley

IWDG Sightings Co-ordinator