Cape Clear course participants well rewarded

27th Jul 2009 The weather wasn't ideal for the 2nd IWDG weekend summer whale watching course on Cape Clear, Co. Cork, but those who stayed with the plan were well very well rewarded with some wonderful encounters of both Harbour porpoiuses and minke whale on the last day.

Land based watches on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning both drew a blank which was to be expected given the poor sea state (5+) and considerable swells. But as always the stunning landscapes from Cape's south facing cliffs never fail to impress, and we still managed a pelagic in the afternoon, albeit in a moderate sea-state.

Sunday saw a definite improvement and the 3rd and final land-based watch produced a wonderful Harbour porpioises encounter of a solitary animal which stayed close to the bottom of the cliff at Blannan, but the highlight was kept till the last moment when all course participants who used the Island Ferry, were treated to a very nice minke whale encounter which lasted 5-10 minutes (see photo by Emer Larkin).

During which the minke remained foraging within meters of Sherkin Island, and conveniently surfaced on 6-7 occasions within close range of the MV Naoimh Ciaran, and showing it tapered rostrum, double blow-hole and white bands around its pectoral fins. Several course participants secured good images of this minke whale. For most on the course this was their 1st sighting of a whale of any species in Irish waters and was a fitting end to those who endured the difficult whale watching conditions of the previous day with a smile.

Our 3rd and final weeknd whale watching course of summer 2009 on 28-30th August, is now full and closed for bookings. But we have some good news to break later in the week, as IWDG are set to announce our 1st ever winter whale-watching weekend in West Cork this November, to coincide with the peak arrival of the large whale along the Irish South coast. This course is open to all IWDG members on a 1st refusal basis. More to follow on this in the coming days.

Thanks to everyone who has supported the IWDG summer weekend courses on Cape Clear Island this summer. Looking forward to the next Cape course.

By Pádraig Whooley

Sightings Co-ordinator