Whale Watching superb off Cork/Kerry region....UPDATE9th Oct 2009 Report II, 09/10/09.
The flow of sightings in recent days leaves little doubt other than the core area of large whale activity, namely fin whales, remains tantalisingly just outside the reach of many. From land there are several options but the easiest may be the Lusitania memorial at the Old Head of Kinsale (please note, you don't need to get out to the lighthouse). Other options may be Roche's Pt. or Power Head on the east side of Cork Harbour.
The problem is that the main area of activity is about 15 miles southeast of the Old Head of Kinsale, but for those of you with spotting scopes, their blows should be visible. Unless you really know what you're looking out for, or have top of the range binoculars, this activity may well be just too distant to detect. That said there are plenty of minke whales being seen much closer to shore along the West Cork coast.
But sightings during the week from both the Naval Service vessel, L.E Aishling and Mike Griew and colleagues at CHC Helicopters show daily sightings in this offshore area to the north of the Kinsale Gas fields. With this in mind we secured permission from Kinsale Energy (formerly Marathon) to fly with them out to the Alpha Platform on 8th October. To call this an amazing experience would be an understatement, as within a short time we were flying over a swathe of mirror calm ocean, disturbed only by the "blows" of fin whales. The consensus from the pilot and co-pilot who naturally had the best seats were that there were about 9 fin whales in the immediate area, which is consistent with previous reports. Also observed in the area was a solitary minke whale, whose diagnostic white pectoral fins stood out brilliantly in constrast with the deep blue.
These fin whales combined with another group of three which whale watch operator Colin Barnes detected c15 miles south of the Old Head, give us a rough estimate of a dozen fin whales which we can account for. This may of course only be the tip of the iceberg.
We look forward to sharing this footage with you which will appear on RTE's "Wild Journey" documentary series, which is being made by Crossing the Line Films, who have made the "Wild Trials" series in recent years. This series is due to air in January 2010.
A huge thanks to Denis Toomey of Kinsale Energy and CHC Helicopters for their hospitality and making this happen.
Report I, 05/10/09.
The flow of sighting reports to IWDG from the southwest shows that the annual inshore whale movement is currently underway. The "high pressure" weather of the past 10 days has seen a steady flow of validated sightings from both regular observers and whale watch operators alike. It looks like the week ahead will see a return to wet and windy weather and this of course will keep sightings to a minimum, but the message as always is to keep a close eye on Met Eireann and to watch those isobars, as the whale watching in the coming months is likely to be simply world class.
Just talking to Nick Massett, in Kerry this morning (5/10/09) while he was watching the humpback whale #HBIRL10 (above) from Slea Head, "Pec-slapping" some 10 miles offshore. Nick first observed this adult humpback three weeks ago on 19th Sept and has recorded it on 8 days in the interim period. Nick's effort watch from Slea Head on 1/10/09 recorded it breach no less than 25 times in an hour, which must be something of a record for this species in these Isles. It's great to know that this whale has found such suitable feeding conditions to keep it in this area for such a long period. Long may it last.
The most unusual large whale sighting was by Conor Ryan, IWDG