Looks like #HBIRL13 is not alone off Wexford coast.

17th Jan 2011 Report V, 17/01/11 PM

Faith Wilson and Christian Osthoff drove down from Wicklow this afternoon to see if they could observe this whale from land. The short answer was yes, they did find it between 15:05-16:30, about 2 miles out towards the Blackwater Bank Bouy. Their sighting confirms it to be another humpback whale.

The problem with this stretch of coast is the absence of any elevation, and so they parked at the "Winning Post" car park, and headed up the sand dunes where they set up their their scopes. The animal was initially difficult to find in poor light, and appeared relatively inactive, perhaps tired after the morning bout of breaching. It travelled slowly north and despite the presence of many thousands of gulls, it was actually difficult to follow, despite both observers having extensive experience of this species. They estimated upwards of 10,000 gulls associated with this humpback whale, which is exceptional.

Their are plans afoot tomorrow to head out to secure photo ID images and a biopsy sample of this whale, either on the IWDG RIB or with Martin Colfer on the Rebecca C. We'll keep you posted.

Report IV, 17/01/11 AM

Martin Colfer of MV Rebecca C reports this morning 17/01/11 on what is almost certainly a humpback whale off Curracloe, Co. Wexford. This is potentially another very important humpback record, as it shows that they may be pushing ever closer up and into the Irish Sea area. This would be the first validated winter record of a humpback whale in the Irish Sea.

The simultaneous timing and location of the sightings of this whale (45 miles distant from Hook) would rule out its being the new animal #HBIRL13 (see below). The local reports are that it has been feeding on herring in the area since 11th Jan. Fishermen this morning observed it breach on 10-12 consecutive occasions this morning within a mile of the shore.

IWDG will keep you posted on developments. Thanks to Martin Colfer www.charterangling.ie for forwarding this record to IWDG.

Report III, 15/01/11

Peter Stevick, Curator of the North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalogue, based in Bar Harbour, Maine, USA reports...... "Two different researchers at Allied Whale have taken your new whale #HBIRL13 through the North Atlantic collection, and we can confirm it is a new animal."

So in the coming days #HBIRL13 will be allocated a unique reference, which in effect grows the known North Atlantic humpback population by one. The Irish contribution to this trans-Atlantic catalogue is a small one, but significant one, as these are previously unrecorded whales from a new area. Another good result.

Report II, 12/01/11

There was a huge response to our late call for IWDG members interested in joining our research trip yesterday 11th Jan out of Dunmore East. In fact such was the demand that to facilitate everyone, we had to charter a second vessel.

It was a great day during which we encounted no less than five marine mammal species, comprising: grey seals, harbour porpoise, common dolphins, fin whales (c5-6), but of course the star of the show as always was the latest addition to the Irish humpback whale catalogue, #HBIRL13, who tail-fluked and and on one occasion even spy-hopped for those on board the MV Keltoi Warrior.

For those with good optics, much of this activity is within scoping range of Hook Head and Dunmore East. During the trip we secured additional photo ID images of this animal, who has now been added to the Irish online catalogue on www.iwdg.ie . Conor Ryan, GMIT/IWDG also secured a biopsy sample of this humpback which will be used for a range of genetic analysis which will enable us among other things confirm its gender and help us gain a better understanding of the ecology of humpback whales

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