Howth Humpback whale off Isle of Man?

27th Jul 2010 Report IV, 26/07/10

A report today from Eleanor Stone, Marine Officer with the Manx Wildlife Trust gives us a likely clue as to the wherabouts of the humpback whale last reported off Howth head on Fri 15th July 2010.

On Fri. 23rd July, a research team from Manx Basking Shark Watch photographed a humpback whale around 6 miles off Peel, on the West Coast of Isle of Man. We've run the images through the Irish Humpback whale catalogue and can't find a match So as far as we are concerned this is a new animal for Irish/IOM waters.


Given the lack of humpback whale activity in the Irish Sea, it does seem likely that this Isle of Man animal is the same animal observed off Howth Head, Co. Dublin 8 days earlier.

Report III, 17/07/10

For RTE news coverage of the event Click Here

Report II, 16/07/10

Several attempts were made to locate the humpback whale yesterday afternoon, but poor weather conspired against all land and boat based efforts. No further sightings were made. Our man on the ground, Brian Glanville who carries out regular land-based watches off Howth Head as part of our inshore cetacean monitoring commitment to NPWS, has returned to Howth first light this morning 16/07/10 and has as of yet not seen the whale.

The stormy weather forecast for the Irish Sea area today will make further re-sightings of this relatively small whale difficult. But their preference for hugging the coastline, may work in our favour.

We'll keep this website updated as and when there are any developments of this story


Report 1, 15/07/10

IWDG have in the past few hours received an image from Sean Pierce, Shearwater Sea kayaking, confirming the first humpback whale on the eastern Irish Sea in almost 20 years. The animal, sub-adult in size, was photographed within metres of the Cardinal marker off Howth Head, between Howth harbour and Ireland's Eye this afternoon Thursday 15/07/10. (Image below)



IWDG have alerted NPWS and local cetacean recorders and Brendan Price of the Irish Seal Sanctuary. Although the image taken by Sean confirms its species, it is too distant to match this individual with any of the existing 11 humpback whales currently on the Irish Humpback Whale Catalogue (link below).

If fortunate enough to re-locate this whale, we'd ask all mariners to note Marine Notice 15 which protects these endangered marine mammals from harrassment from boats. They also have full protection under Irish and EU legislation. Boats should maintain a 100m distance and keep speeds to less than 7 knots, do not cross the animals path, and please maintain a parallel course with the whale if travelling with it.

We have been informed of at least two reports of this whale approaching and even nudging boats in Skerries and around the back of Ireland's Eye today. So this whale clearly has little fear of boats, which may well raise management concerns for how this situation is handled if large numbers of people go to sea to view this animal. But the unsettled weather may work in our favour in this regard.

IWDG would really appreciate any images especially of the whale's ventral surface of the tail flukes or dorsal fin. These images may help us match this whale with others on the Irish catalogue or with the North Atlantic Humpback Whale catalogue which currently has over 5,500 recognisable individuals which can be matched by their unique scarring on their flanks or pattern on their flukes..

http://www.iwdg.ie/iscope/sightings/photoID.asp?species=2103

Sean reports ....

"...it stayed around Cardinal Mark off Howth for over 2 hours. Just