Rare sighting of Northern Bottlenose whales...in N. Irl

26th Aug 2009 IWDG have received a sighting report with supporting video clips taken on a mobile phone which confirm a group of three Northern bottlenose whales off the mouth of Carlingford Lough, Co. Down on Sat. 22nd August 2009.

The sighting was made during an angling trip outside Carlingford Lough, and was reported to us by Mark Magee of Sea Fishing Northern Ireland. There was sufficient detail on the sighting form to suspect that these were indeed Northern bottlenose whales. But speices ID was confirmed by video evidence which leaves no doubt; clearly showing the 20-30ft length, classic "Cigar shape", brown colouration, large bulbous head with long beak and bushy blow.

This is a remarkable record, and is ironic given that Northern bottlenose whales belong to the "beaked whale" group, which are the focus of the current IWDG/GMIT Frontier Cruise, currently surveying the canyon systems of the Porcupine Bank in more typical beaked whale habitat. They are usually found in waters that extend to depths beyond 1,500m.

Sightings of this rarely seen deep-diving species are frequently associated with live-stranding events, but at time of writing there is no evidence of any of this group stranding. The last documented inshore sighting of a Northern bottlenose whale in Irish waters was 19 Aug 2005 when a solitary animal spent six days swimming and breaching inside Puleen Hbr., Nr. Castletownbere, Beara Peninsula, Co. Cork.

Please click on the link below for a rare opportunity to view footage of one of the most mysterious and poorly understood Irish marine mammals.

Big thanks to Mark Magee and colleagues at Sea Fishing Northern Ireland for sharing their observation with us.

Pádraig Whooley

Sightings Co-ordinator