Curracloe Humpback confirmed as new ...UPDATE

20th Jan 2011 Report III, 2001/11

So far there are no reported sightings of #HBIRL14 today off Curracloe area, but we can confirm that it was present yesterday 19th Jan. in the same area. Peter Dunne a Wicklow IWDG member travelled down from Arklow and observed it for about an hour just south of the fishing fleet. Peter travelled to Baja with IWDG in 2009 where he had some memorable humpback encounters, but nothing quite like seeing them on your own local patch.

Aoife Cleare has sent us some additional images from our trip on the 18th Jan. which reveal further scars on this humpback's tail stock and tip of flukes (see photo). Whether these are as a result of killer whales remains unclear. Phil Clapham, NOAA suggests these could also be "entanglement" scars caused by fishing gear. Either way, HBIRL14 has been through the wars and these images give us some insight into the difficulties faced by these highly mobile marine mammals as they move between high latitude feeding grounds and tropical breeding grounds.

Nothing else really gets a look in when humpbacks dominate the media, but in recent days there has also been some great fin whale activity. On 18/01/11 the Irish Naval Service vessel L.E. Orla observed and filmed no less than seven fin whales c39 miles south of Cork Harbour. While there were another three fin whales off the Gt. Saltee Isl. yesterday 19th Jan. So in terms of blubber biomass, the fin whales are very much more widespread and abundant than their smaller rorqual cousin.

With all the media coverage, we are receiving regular calls from members of the public looking for tips on how, where & when to view the Curracloe humpback and others. Most of these enquiries are from non IWDG members. It's not that we are being unhelpful, but as a conservation NGO we just don't have the resources to offer a free advice service to people who'd like to go whale watching.

We invest considerable resources into bringing these "whale stories" to a national audience via the media, and the very latest validated sightings are updated in real time at no cost to the public on . Such an open policy is without precedent among conservation groups either in Ireland or abroad. So if you need "rolling updates" or information above and beyond that which we already provide, then we feel it reasonable to ask that you'd consider supporting our conservation work by taking out IWDG membership, so that we can continue to carry out research into these magnificent visitors to our shores.

You can become an IWDG member by clicking on the "JOIN THE IWDG" banner on the home page

The latest Photo ID images of #HBIRL14 have been added to the Irish Humpback whale catalogue which can be seen by clicking on the following link:

Report II, 18/01/11

With Faith Wilson's report below, there was only one thing to do, and that was to head up into very much unchartered waters for us. In all the year's we've been monitoring large whales during the well documented "large whale" winter season, we've never rounded the corner into the Irish Sea. Exciting times!

So we beat a well-worn path to the Southeast, where we sailed from Kilmore Quay at 08:15 AM on a perfectly calm morning. Some two hours later with Rosslare behind us, steaming north we approached Raven Point and the distinctive pine woodland at Curracloe. All eyes peeled as we started to find large numbers of seabirds, and then the shout out from Paddy Roche and Deirdre Slevin on the located.

This was a remarkable encounter, as the whale at a glance was clearly a new whale. Its dorsal fin on both sides had a unique zebra like pattern on it

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