Fin whales established in West Cork

29th Sep 2008 Report III: 29/09/08

We've received reports from local Ardfield farmer, Tim Feen this morning 29/09/08 of at least three fin whales blowing in the same area as yesterday. This morning's activity is c2 miles Southwest of Sands Cove near Ardfield, Clonakilty Bay and is likely to be of the same whales observed yesterday. Unfortunately the settled weather of the last two weeks is set to break this afternoon, and we will have limited opportunity to monitor this local activity, until high pressure returns.

Report II: 28/09/08

With steady reports now of fin whales southeast of Galley Head we arranged a boat load of local whale watchers and birders and headed out with Colin Barnes ( for a photo ID trip focusing on the area just south of Clonakilty Bay. Confident that fin whales were in the area, with settled weather we headed east.

We started picking up our 1st blows just east of Galley Head from Colin's primary watch platform, and over the next five hours we observed between 8-9 fin whales. On several occasions the whales allowed close approaches from the MV Holly Jo, which enabled us secure images suitable for photo ID. During the trip we recognised at least one individual #FWIRL30 called "Hook", whom we saw on four occasions in West Cork during Nov 2007. All images will be run through the Irish Fin whale catalogue for matching. See the link:

The IWDG co-ordinate the Irish Fin and Humpback whale catalogues, which to date contain 41 fin and seven humpback whales, all of which can be views on This work is being funded by the Heritage Council, under the Wildlife Grants scheme.

Report I: 24/09/08

In recent weeks there have been many sightings of large numbers of fin whales in offshore waters, but IWDG observers and members watched fin whales this afternoon 24th Sept 2008 blowing off Galley Head lighthouse, West Cork.

It has been a somewhat unusual year for this regular visitor to the Irish South coast, which we'd generally expect to have become established in places like West Cork inshore waters by late September. Alas, most of the sighting records this summer have come from offshore survey efforts which have been well documented on in recent weeks.

As recently as this morning 24/09/08 IWDG observers taking part in the Air Corp, 105 Maritime Squadron flight counted 20-30 fin whales again in offshore southwest waters.

But this afternoon 24/09/08 IWDG committee member Faith Wilson reported blows from at least one fin whale off Galley Head. Local Whale Watch operator, Colin Barnes who was in the area was directed towards the activity and could confirm that there was at least one fin whale and there is a strong liklihood that one of them is the individual known as "Scar" or FWIRL1 on the Irish Fin whale catalogue. This animal has been seen regularly in West Cork's inshore waters since 2005, and it's fantastic to see these individuals returning to our inshore waters year after year.

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