West Cork fin whale reports: 6/11/07 - 21/11/07

21st Nov 2007 Report 9: 21/11/07

Colin Barnes reports the fin whales still very close inshore in Toe Head area today, with a minimum of 4 fin whales and 6+ minkes. His observations suggest they are not feeding, although there are still large aggregations of seabirds in the area.

Report 8: 18/11/07

Despite inclement weather, Colin Barnes reports c6 fin whales while scoping from land at Gokane Point between Toe Head and Baltimore. In windy conditions it can be very difficult to pick up even whales as large as fin whales, as their bodies can easily be hidden behind ocean swells, while their blows can lose their integrity once they exit the blowhole. But it's important to keep up the monitoring in poor conditions, to establish a more complete picture of their usage of our waters.

Report 7: 16/11/07

A further report from West Cork Whalewatch operator, Colin Barnes, of upwards of 10 fin whales and similar numbers of minke whales in the same general area they've been seen over the previous week. Whale watch enthusiasts, some of whom were IWDG members from the UK, enjoyed a stunning encounter of a tight group of c7 fin whales feeding on a massive shoal of small class herring just Southeast of Kedge Island.

Crew on board the Sail Training Vessel Asgard II also photographed fin whales off the old Signal towers on Cape Clear Island. Some of these were forwarded to IWDG (below). Land-based observations were also made by Simon Duggan from Baltimore Beacon at 14:00. We'd like to thank all those who have assisted IWDG with monitoring these whales while they have been feasting in West Corks inshore waters.

Fin whale of Cape Clear Island 15/11/07 © Fin Goggin, Asgard II

It will be interesting to see if they remain in the area throughout the poor weather forecast over the next few days. For those planning on travelling down to see them, please note the weather this weekend is not looking favourable for whale watching.

Report 6: 14/11/07

Colin Barnes reports a minimum of 7 fin whales and 5 minke whales today from the MV Holly Jo in the waters West of the Stags towards Gascanane Sound. Whale watchers were treated to a rare sighting of a fin whale almost fully breach, which would have been nice to capture on camera! This is without doubt the longest run of fin whale activity in West Cork since IWDG and Colin Barnes began monitoring them in 1999.

Report 5: 12/11/07

The superb whale activity prevailed over the weekend with estimates ranging from 7-12 fin whales observed during commercial whale watching trips. Added to the mix were countless minke whales. The activity remains centered in the waters west of the Stags, towards Baltimore out to the Fastnet Rock and extending as far west as Brow Head on the Mizen Peninsula and inside Roaringwater Bay.

Fin whale lunge feeding 12/11/07 East of Mizen Head © Padraig Whooley, IWDG

During todays trip with Colin Barnes 12/11/07 in superb sea conditions, i.e. calm and clear, we observed a minimum of 7 fin and upwards of 15 minkes. The activity is again well spread out both east and west of the Fastnet. Recommended land-based vantage points would be Toe Head, Baltimore Beacon, Sherkin and Cape Clear Islands, Castlepoint, Crosshaven, Brow Head and Mizen Head. Keep watching out for large aggregations of seabirds (kittiwakes in particular) and for distant vapour plumes, which indicate the presence of fin whales. But you will need both optics and patience!

Minke whale surface feeding 12/11/07, Roaringwater bay © Padraig Whooley, IWDG

As of yet, there is no