Another Fin Whale Stranding...this time in Co. Wexford

4th Feb 2009 Report 2, Wed. 4th Feb 2009 12:00

Tony Murray, NPWS conservation ranger has measured the whale at between 15-17m, which would put it within the 50-60ft range. For those considering travelling to see it, it is 2.5km south of Morris Castle at Grid Ref T19294 40950. .

Report 1, Tues. 3rd Feb 2009

Three weeks after the Courtmacsherry fin whale stranding, another large whale, which is most likely to be a fin whale has stranded dead on a Co. Wexford beach. Although we can't be certain of its species, the images forwarded to IWDG suggest strongly that this is another fin whale Balaenoptera physalus. We can confirm that it is male. Once we get access to the whale's head area we should be able to observe diagnostic features that will confirm its species.

As we've learnt in recent weeks that guessing the length/weight of these massive animals when still partially in the water is largely a waste of time, but we would conservatively put this animal in the 40-50ft feet range and on this basis it could weigh as much as 30 tonnes or more. As with the Courtmacsherry whale, the sheer size and dead weight of this animal will likely create interesting challenges for the engineers and contractors in Wexford County Council.

The stranding was first reported to IWDG on Sunday 1st Feb. by Nicky Walshe of Wexford Wildflowl Reserve. The location is on the east Wexford coast, at Ballyduboy, about 2.5km south of Morris Castle, Kilmuckeridge. This is the 1st record of an actual fin whale stranding along the Wexford coast, although we do have records of a fin whale skull and baleen plates at Chour Beach, Co. Wexford on 27/02/2002.

Given its size it's most likely an adult, but due to heavy seas and poor weather of late it has not been possible to obtain an exact measurment of the animal. We have been speaking to Wexford County Council, who confirm that they plan to bury the animal onsite this Friday 6th Feb.

This is a great opportunity for members of the public to observe a fin whale in the southeast. The strandings of at least three fin whales since October 2008 in counties Kerry, Cork and Wexford no doubt reflects their widespread distribution and does we hope suggest their increased numbers along our Atlantic and Celtic Sea coast. It would be wonderful to think that fin whales could begin to frequent the Irish Sea area, but only continued long-term monitoring and recording will show if this single stranding event is part of a trend.

Pádraig Whooley, IWDG

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