Fin whales back inshore in east Cork....UPDATE

3rd Dec 2009 Report IV, 03/12/09.

Regular observer, Herman Baily who lives on Power head, near Roche's point, Cork has not only observed 4-6 fin whales today, but also managed to capture a "blow" on at least one whale, from a range of c10 miles using a 300mm lens.

This latest whale sighting again suggests strongly that the large whale activity is currently centered well east of the normal West Cork hotspots. Earlier in the week Andrew Malcolm had more fin whales (possibly the same animals) off Ram Head, Ardmore, Co. Waterford.

The reality is given the current unsettled weather which shows no sign of abating, that there is very little scope for us to establish whether these animals are the just the tip of the iceberg, or whether these represent the core group of animals currently inshore. In previous years, with relatively calm weather in November, we've had a lot more sightings data and IWDG could pin point which land-based viewing points were likely to produce the best sightings. At the moment all we can say is that

Ram Head, Ardmore, Co. Waterford, or Knockadoon Head, Ballycotton, Power head or Roche's Point, Co. Cork, may produce sightings, but you'll need to know what you're looking for and will need good optics.

If the weather settles, IWDG will of course resume photo ID research on these whales which should anwer the big questions, like: are there humpbacks in among them, or how many of these animals are re-sightings of whales currently on the IWDG fin and humpback catalogues.

IWDG will attempt to keep you updated on their movements, but this will require the weather to improve considerably.

Pádraig Whooley

Sightings Co-ordinator

Report III, 30/11/09.

As the day looked favourable it seemed prudent to take the opportunity to visit Ram Head on St. Andrews day-surely a favourable augur!

There were hundreds of birds feeding all around the headland and it wasn't long before I saw my first group of dolphins, then another and another. Not perhaps as many as I'd seen from Knockadoon Head earlier this month-over 300-but there were certainly close to 200 around. Then in the usual Ardmore hotspot due directly south of the headland and about 15 miles away I started picking up vapour plumes. These animals were too far away and were feeding in fairly choppy conditions to make it easy to positively identify them. But the strongest possibility was that at least 3 were fin whales. There was something unusual about the 4th animal, a much wispier blow and that certain subtle difference that is impossible to put your finger on but would lead me to say it was more than likely a humpback. In fact I'd go so far to say I'd put money on it-but perhaps not too much!

Lets hope the weather improves soon and we can keep track on the movements of these animals.

Report II, 10/11/09.

A rare break in the recent run of awful weather, brought light northerlies and with them, clear skies, and calm seas. Perfect winter whale watching weather in West Cork. Richard O' Flynn, Skibereen reports today that he and local IWDG member Simon Duggan found at least two and probably 3-4 fin whales south east of Baltimore, as they travelled towards the Stags. These are the first West Cork inshore fin whale reports of the 2009 season, and it is likely that there has been plenty of fin whale activity in recent weeks, which as a result of the stormy weather has gone unrecorded.

This is good news indeed for the two upcoming IWDG winter whale watching breaks based in the Celtic Ross hotel, Rosscarbery on 20-22nd and 27-29th November. No doubt we'll all be keeping one eye closely on Met Eireann, as we get closer to these dates. We can predict with a fair degree of accuracy the pres

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