Weekly Sightings Summary 19-26 May

27th May 2008 We received 18 sightings last week 19-26 May, comprising 5 species from 6 counties, breaking down as follows: Kerry (7), Cork (4), Mayo (3), Donegal (2) and one each for Clare & Antrim. Sightings were down on previous weeks, due no doubt to the relentless easterly winds which resulted in our not receiving a single sighting from the Irish sea or south coast. The vast majority of sightings were from the SW and west coasts.

The run of basking shark records continued and they remained the most frequently reported species during this period. Interestingly, they remain unchanged at exactly 39% of all sighting reports, which were well ahead of bottlenose dolphins and minke whale, which were both at 17%. The remaining species seen were harbour porpoise & common dolphin.

The distribution of basking shark records continues to show a southwest and northwest bias, but a quick glance at these sightings mapped on www.iwdg.ie shows that the core activity remains off the Beara, Iveragh and Slea Head peninsulas with multiple sightings from each of these areas. Other basking shark records came from their former hunting ground of Achill Island, Co. Mayo and Donegal Bay.

The 1st anecdotal records of what are most probably fin whales off the south coast have been reported by Colin Barnes, who was informed by ex colleagues fishing off the Labadie Banks in the Celtic Sea area, of large whales blowing mid last week. Given sightings trends since 1999, these are likely to be fin whales, which no doubt we'll start picking up off the Waterford and East Cork coast in the coming weeks (if the weather improves). Fin whales surfacing, © Padraig Whooley, IWDG

Last weekend was a busy one for IWDG with ISCOPE workshops in Ballyshannon Co. Donegal on Sat 24th May, and the following day at Kilrush. Co. Clare. A huge thank you to Pearse Mc Hugh for organising the Ballyshannon course. We hope that the 35 people who attended these workshops enjoyed the day and that they will now feel better equipped to report their sightings to IWDG. Ballyshannon Course watch off Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo © Padraig Whooley, IWDG

The weather for the last few days of May continues to look unsettled and we can only hope that June will see a more settled pattern with calmer seas, lighter winds and clear vis. Bottlenose dolphins off Slyne Head, Galway © Ivan O' Kelly, IWDG

All Irish cetacean (and basking shark) sightings are available for mapping and interrogation under "advanced search" facility on www.iwdg.ie. So you can establish at a glance what's happening around the country. Minke whale, Sheeps Hd, West Cork  23/05/08 © Brian O' Rourke

There are still some places left on the IWDG Cape Clear Weekend Whale Watching course on 27-29 June. If interested in attending this or any other Cape Clear courses email padaig.whooley@iwdg.ie or phone 023-38761.

Happy whale watching

Pádraig Whooley

IWDG Sightings Co-ordinator

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