IWDG's 2010 Cape Courses end on a sweet note.13th Sep 2010 Well Cape has for the 1st time in a few years now really come good for IWDG in 2010, with at least two of our three weekends producing excellent sightings, comprising no less than six species, (including basking sharks).
Fri. 10th Sept. was as Met Eireann predicted a bit of a wash-out with showers, sea state 4 and a pretty big swell. The Friday afternoon watch from Bullig really should have been cancelled, but the trio of zoology graduates from TCD weren't taking no for an answer, plus they had the legal backing of Prof. David Morgan, UCC. So who was I to say no? Besides we needed to stretch the legs anyway.
After registration and 1st of 3 presentations it was an early night for most people, tired after the long journey south.
Sat. 11th....Back to Ciaran Danny Mikes "lecture Room" for the 2nd presentation covering the thorny issue of species identification. Then our 1st official land-based watch of the weekend, which produced our 1st dolphin encounter of a small group of c15 common dolphins, which may have been just a bit too distant, and in too big a swell, for some.
Back down to Ciaran Danny Mikes for teas/coffees and scones and just enough time for a wee rest, before we took to the high seas for a 4 hour epic on the ex Cape ferry, the Naoimh Ciaran, which worked really well in the big seas.
During this trip we enjoyed sightings of Hbr. porpoises outside North Harbour, and bow-riding common dolphins several miles off the Kedge as we steamed east towards the last known sightings of fin whales during the week. The determination of the group paid dividends when at around 16:00 we picked up two large blows on our port side off the Stags area. Too distant to confirm species, we had to wait 10 minutes till they surfaced after their terminal dive, before we could confirm these to be fin whales. This was actually the 1st time that we've seen fin whales during our summer courses on Cape, and after a 30 minute run with them, we headed for home, west towards Cape with that warm fuzzy feeling you get inside when you know you've cheated the odds!
I won't mention names, but at least one of our group deserves a special mention as she pulled herself away from retching over the ship's rail, to observe her 1st whale in Irish waters. Now such dedication is both rare and noteworthy.
We headed back in to South harbour after 18:00 with a few more dolphin sightings under our belts, and other than some minor casualties to the sea, this will go down as perhaps one of the most eventful of the pelagic trips during our summer courses. A huge thanks to Ciaran O' Driscoil for making his vessel available to us.
After a fine meal in Ciaran Danny Mikes the evening entertainment was the now traditional talk on Whale Watching around the globe which includes several IWDG research/filming trips and holidays to exotic locations such as Baja, California and the Cape Verdes.
Sun 12th saw the 3rd and final land-watch of the weekend, and in superb sea conditions as the wind backed down overnight to a light northwesterly. During this 90 minute watch everyone enjoyed further common dolphin sightings, and towards the end Heike Glee took the covetted Mars bar, when he was 1st to spot a minke whale about 2KM south of Blannan. This sighting brought our weekend tally to an imp