Fin whales now off Co. Wexford

22nd Dec 2007 Fin whale Update III: 22/12/07

At least two fin whales observed by Andrew Malcolm on Sat 22nd Dec during an effort watch off Ram Head, Ardmore, Co. Waterford. Whales were well east of Ram Head. So the Waterford area is still likely to be your best opportunity to observe large whales over the Christmas holiday period.

Fin whale Update II: 17/12/07

IWDG members John & Tily Malings have just reported our 1st Co. Wexford fin whale activity off the east side of the Hook Head Peninsula, about a mile south of Baginbun Head on 17/12/07. The whale could be clearly seen without the use of optics from land. This sighting comes a week after Andrew Malcolm's fin whale sightings on 10/12/07 off Ram Head, Ardmore, Co. Waterford.

These sightings suggest the fin whales have left their Co. Cork hotspots, which is great news for whale enthusiasts in the South east, who may have some close inshore sightings over the Christmas holidays in the waters around the outer Waterford Harbour, between Dunmore East and the Hook. In recent years this area has also been a draw for humpback whales, as the large predators are attracted by large aggregations of spawning herring.

Once again, it is only by receiving your reports that we can track their movements as they push along the Irish south coast. IWDG are extremely grateful for any sightings of these whales, and indeed all cetacean species in Irish waters. A huge thank you to the hundreds of whale watchers and enthusiasts who reported sightings to IWDG in 2007.

Pádraig Whooley

IWDG Sightings Co-ordinator

Fin whales arrive in County Waterford 10 Dec 07

It was very little surprise, but still with great excitement, that within twenty minutes of my arrival today to carry out my monthly ISCOPE effort watch I spotted two fin whales about 8 kilometres due south of Ram Head.

In recent years of "constant effort" monitoring of cetacean activity off the south coast of Ireland, history has shown that there is a fin whale ‘season'. Their first appearance of this season normally occurs off Ram Head during the month of May. This is only a very brief stay however lasting at most no more than a couple of weeks. They then move westwards, congregating in the waters of West Cork during the summer and autumn before returning in a now eagerly anticipated migration eastwards towards County Waterford in late November or early December.

Over the years of watching these animals it has become apparent that when they do return to the waters of East Cork and West Waterford in the winter they linger in a few favoured areas until February or early March, showing remarkable "site fidelity". Let's hope that this year proves to be no different to the previous ones and that these amazing animals keep to their astonishingly consistent schedule and that if the weather holds fair we have a couple of months of stunning whale watching!

Footnote.......IWDG took advantage of a rare weather window to carry out monthly "effort watches", from three south coast counties, as part of our ISCOPE II commitment to NPWS. It was clear that the watch results showed a marked increase in activity from the healdlands further east.

Mick O' Connell observed no whales or dolphins during a 100 minute watch off Slea Head, Kerry, although he did have a pair of Harbour porpoise. Padraig Whooley reports a blank off Castlepoint, Roaringwater Bay, Co Cork. But a 50 minute watch off Galley Head, later in the day in

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