Return of a Humpback, called Boomerang

13th Jul 2008 13 July, "Boomerang" now off Waterford Coast

Having gone through probably the leanest period in our years whale watching off Ram Head, Ardmore, Co. Waterford, today was one of those days that makes up for all those long hours staring at an empty sea. Ann was the first to spot the humpback whale under a cloud of gulls and gannets less than 2km south/south east of Ram Head. It stayed in this same area for the next hour and a half, displaying a wide range of humpback whale behaviour including fishing using their unique "bubble netting" technique.

The whale was close enough for us to clearly see its scarred dorsal fin and the “bite” out of the right hand fluke to enable us positively identify this as being the south coast's old friend “Boomerang”. So it appears that this humpback has travelled east a distance of c45 miles from the Old Head of Kinsale, Co. Cork to Ardmore Head, Co. Waterford in 2-3 days, which of course is hardly remarkable for a migratory species.

Also noteworthy is the fact that Skipper Joe Aston, veteran of several IWDG humpback whale expeditions to the Cape Verdes islands, 1st photographed Boomerang off Mine Head, Co. Waterford on 15 July 2002 (see pic). So six years later the whale is still being seen in pretty much the same area and at exactly the same time of the month. Is this a coincidence?

Eventually one of the numerous boats out in the bay also spotted the animal and this RIB zoomed out to investigate. It was very difficult to ascertain how close it was getting to the whale but we would like to remind boat users to keep a respectful distance from these large animals as much for their own safety as for any welfare issues that might arise from disturbing a wild animal's natural behaviour.

It's fantastic to see the IWDG's sightings network working so well, that it can on occasion be used to track the movements of known individual humpback and fin whales in Irish coastal waters.

By Andrew Malcolm & Ann Trimble, IWDG


12 July 2008

Having been out on Cape Clear Island and at sea carrying out harbour porpoise survey work in West Cork, we've just had an opportunity to catch up on sightings and phone messages left while away, and we're delighted to report that one of the sightings reported by the L.E. Aishling by Lt. Rónán Mc Laughlin was of a humpback whale just 1.7 miles SW of the Old Head of Kinsale on Thursday afternoon, 10th July 2008. Humpback whale #HBIRL3 off Old Head Kinsale, Cork 10/07/08 Ronan Mc Laughlan, L.E. Aishling

Sightings of humpbacks are always an exciting event, but this is partcularly significant, as this is not just any humpback whale, but we can confirm that it's the individual known as "Boomerang" , or #HBIRL3 on the Irish humpback whale catalogue. Click the following link for the full catlogue www.iwdg.ie/iscope/sightings/photoID.asp?species=2103

"Boomerang" is likely to be one of the most documented humpback whales in any European waters, as we've been tracking its progress along the Irish South coast now since West Cork Whale Watch operator, Colin Barnes, first photographed it back in 2001. Since then we've observed it in seven of the past eight years along the Waterford or West Cork coastline. The only year it wasn't seen was 2006, which of course doesn't mean it wasn't present! The last sighting of it in 2007 was on 30 July 2007 at the mouth of Waterford Harbour. Humpback whale blowing, Old Head Kinsale, Cork 10/07/08 Ronan Mc Laughlan, L.E. Aishling

Although in this instance, images were not secured of its "tail-fluking", there is sufficient detail on the dorsal fin, which is damaged with a lot