Fin whales returning to Irish south coast.

17th Jul 2009 Two confirmed sighting reports from Dr Peter Tyndal, BIM in offshore International waters and Colin Barnes from offshore West Cork, both confirm that fin whales are arriving. The fin whale known as "Scar" FWIRL2 is among them.

Peter Tyndal whose reports last year during BIM Tuna surveys produced several fantastic fin whale encounters, as well as a "probable" blue whale sighting. But Colleagues of Peter's report more fin whale activity yesterday, which again is associated with tuna feeding on krill. The location is outside the Irish EEZ at 48 degrees North, 10 degrees West. It is hoped that this activity will push further north into Irish waters, and bring it within range of Irish researchers and whale watchers.

Meanwhile, much closer to home, Colin Barnes carried out a speculative angling trip yesterday which he uses to cover new grounds in search of whales in West Cork offshore waters. During the morning he had the first confirmed inshore sighting of a fin whale off the Irish South coast in 2009. The location was c28 miles South of Seven Heads. This is well outside scoping range from land.

He initially observed a distant blow 2-3 miles ahead of the MV Holly Jo, and on closer approach it was clear it was a fin whale. As Colin approached from the left side, he noted the familiar scarred flank, confirming this to be one of our most recognisable fin whales, "Scar" FWIRL2 (see photo). Our last recorded sighting of this animal was on 12/11/08 off the Old Head of Kinsale, and this latest sighting is our 25th re-sighting of Scar since it was first recorded in June 2008.

We hope this heralds the start of an inshore movement of fin whales that will bring them within range of Irish whale watchers. For anyone interested in serious whale watching, as seen on both "Wild Trials" and "Living the Wildlife" series Colin can be contacted on 086-3273226 or http://www.whalewatchwithcolinbarnes.com.

Pádraig Whooley

Sightings Co-ordinator