Sightings round-up Sept/October......UPDATE!

22nd Oct 2007 Report II: 22th Oct

Colin Barnes reports between 15-20 fin whales just Southwest of Galley Head, West Cork during a Whale Watch trip on board the MV Holly Jo on 19th October. But as Dave Wall's report from the RV Celtic Explorer shows, fin whales are also occuring in other areas such as off the Youghal Coast in East Cork.

At least 3-4 fin whale were seen the following day in the same area off Galley Head. The weather is looking quite broken until at least mid this week, so hopefully these impressive numbers of fin whales will remain in their west Cork hotspots, giving us an opportunity to Photo ID them.


Report I: 18th Oct

Both fin & humpback whales are now off the Irish South coast, as sightings build up nicely for the annual late autumn/early winter peak, which IWDG have documented since 1999.

Having been out of commission for the past five weeks, on return from a wonderful holiday in South Africa and Namibia, where we got to see plenty of Southern right and humpback whales; it's great to return home to find that the whale activity off our own shores remains as superb as ever. Although admittedly we might struggle to see Irish fin whales from our bedroom windows every day!

Whilst away, there were some great sightings reported online to IWDG by members of the public from all Irish waters, and it'll will take us a week or so to get each of these validated, processed and entered online, so everyone can access them. So we'd ask you to bear with us. But all sightings will be treated equally and dealt with in due course. Of course, we're sure there were many interesting and noteworthy observations made that have not been reported to the IWDG, and we'd encourage everyone interested in cetacean conservation in Ireland to support the Irish Cetacean Sighting & stranding Schemes, by reporting your observations to us, via www.iwdg.ie

I've noted a few interesting or unusual sightings that stand out thus far while I was away. Among them are: Juv. humpback of Toe Head West Cork 280907 © Conor Ryan

28th Sept, IWDG member Conor Ryan observed and photographed a Juvenile Humpback whale while out on a trip with Whale Watch operator Colin Barnes on the MV Holly Jo off Toe Head, West Cork. Interestingly, this is a new individual, previously undocumented in Irish waters, whom we'll be adding to the Irish Humpback whale catalogue, bringing the total number of this species to 7.

Juv. humpback of Toe Head West Cork 280907 © Conor Ryan

On Oct 4th, Colin Barnes observed a mixed pod of long-finned pilot whales along with bottlenose dolphins about 12 miles south of Galley Head. This species is only rarely observed in inshore waters, as pilot whales are a deep water species, preferring shelf waters and depths of c1000m+. This will be without doubt one of the years most unusual sightings, yet around the same time Dave Wall observed Atlantic white-sided dolphins in the same area, and these are another pelagic species associated with offshore habitats.

On Oct. 6th IWDG observer Patrick Lyne observed what could have been as many as 4-7 fin whales off Black Ball Head, Beara Peninsula. Which is within a stones throw of Co. Kerry, although we'll still claim it as another Cork observation!

Today 18th Oct, saw me back on my West Cork cliff top perches and having secured access to Galley Head lighthouse from the builders working at the lighthouse, I was treated to stunning views of 7-8 fin whales, some within 4-5 miles SW of Galley Head. These Fin whales seem to be building in numbers and hopefully November, which is usually the peak month in this area anyway, will provide many photo-id opportunities for us. To date our Fin whale catalogue is up to 30 recogn