Fin whales still off Waterford/Cork coast....Update

10th Mar 2009 Report III. 10/03/09 19:00

Since the early days of March hadn't allowed any watches it was only today that I managed my first 'effort' watch of the month.

The morning had been quite breezy so it wasn't until mid afternoon that I started my watch. As the wind dropped I was finally able to spot several small groups of common dolphins surging through the water as they fed under large flocks of gannets.

There were also several small groups of kittiwakes feeding and I felt sure there was at least a chance that there was a whale in the area. And so it proved to be. Just as I was getting ready to leave I caught the tell-tale drift of a large vapour plume from a fin whale.

On the 5th March 2006 Ann Trimble spotted at least 2 whales from the same vantage point, but this is the latest in the 'season' that a fin whale has been noted from the south coast.

Andrew Malcolm

Report II. 26/02/09 17:00

Following on from yesterdays reports of fin whales off the East Cork/West Waterford area, we have just received a further sighting from Lt. Rónán Mc Loughlin of the Irish Naval Service vessel, L.E. Aisling of another fin whale just SE of the Old Head of Kinsale on 25/02/09. So its possible that there are more fin whales along the Cork coast than those we've reported on from the Capel Island area.

Report I. 25/02/09 17:00

Land-based observations by Andrew Malcolm from Ram Head, Ardmore, Co. Waterford yesterday 25th Feb and boat based sightings by IWDG member Tom Power off Youghal in recent days show there are still fin whales to be seen inshore.

The small numbers involved in these sightings suggest that the large numbers counted in West Cork between Oct-Dec have moved offshore, but that a few late departers remain. Most observations suggest there is a group of at least two fin whales just a few miles south east of Capel Island. Suggested vantage points are Knockadoon Head, East Cork or Ram Head, Ardmore, Co. Waterford.


It is not unusual to have fin whales this late in winter, as in recent years they have been observed from Ram Had as late as early March. To date the only month in which fin whales have been absent along the Irish South coast is April. These late sightings demonstrate that some fin whales stay in Irish inshore waters throughout the winter, and suggest strongly that when they leave they are not going very far, as we typically start detecting them again in mid to late May.

As we've come to expect, the remaining fin whales are in the company of large numbers of common dolphins, suggesting both species are still feeding on spawning herring and/or sprats. This may be your last opportunity to observe the tail-end of the 2008/9 large whale season in Irish waters. It would be great to know how late these few remaining whales will remain in the area; and as always, your sightings reports are greatly appreciated.

Pádraig Whooley,

Sightings Co-ordinator