IWDG validate 15,000th sighting in Irish waters.

4th May 2010 The IWDG have just processed our 15,000th validated sighting in Irish waters. Each of these records can be interrogated and mapped on www.iwdg.ie, depending on what level of detail you are looking for.

Record #15,000 ironically came from our own Dave Wall who reported consecutive basking shark records from the Ballinskelligs area, Co. Kerry over the weekend while diving in St. Finan's Bay area.

It's that time of the year now when basking sharks figure strongly on the list of species being reported to IWDG. We'd expect these to peak between the end of May and late June, before easing off as we head into July. That said, we received regular shark records throughout summer 2009, with the last records in October, which are extremely late records for these waters. But it looks like 2010 is shaping up for another record year for the North Atlantic's largest fish.

We are also receiving plenty of minke whale sightings from around the south coast, with recent reports from several areas between the Saltees and West Kerry. So keep your eyes peeled for our smallest rorqual.

To date there is no evidence of a return by fin whales to our shores, but watch this space, as we'll almost certainly pick up those first distant vapour plumes in the coming weeks. For those of you living in the Dublin area, don't forget that the 1st fin whales of 2009 were just off Howth Head.

Our colleagues down in the Cape Verdes are still carrying out photo ID on the humpbacks off Boa Vista, and enjoying daily encounters. So given that there are still humpbacks on the tropical breeding grounds off West Africa, it's likely that we'll not have them off Irish inshore waters for some time yet. No Irish humpbacks were photographed so far during this breeding season.

Who knows what gems of sightings are in store for us in the next 1000 sightings? Thanks to every one of you for all your "casual" and effort-related sightings in the past 12 months. All your sightings help us build up the all important "big picture" as to which species are using Irish waters, and how?

Pádraig Whooley

IWDG Sightings Co-ordinator