IWDG publish first study of fin whales in Ireland

27th Jan 2011 IWDG have just published the first paper using photo-id to explore the ecology of fin whales off the south coast of Ireland in Marine Biodiversity Records, volume 4.

The paper uses the extensive photo-identification catalogue built up by the IWDG since 2001, especially by Padraig Whooley and in collaboration with whalewatch operator Colin Barnes.

The study showed that 62 individual fin whales were identified using a variety of marks, including notches in the dorsal fin, blotches and scars. Forty (65%) of these whales were only seen once but eleven whales (18%) have been recorded within a year on up to four occasions within a season and eleven whales (18%) re-sighted between years with one recorded in four and one in five of the last seven years.

Re-sighting rate varied depending on the marks used to identify whales but was 17.7% overall. The mean interval between the first and last reported sighting was 33.2 days, with a minimum of one day and a maximum interval of 165 days.

The south coast of Ireland is an important site for fin whales and provides excellent research opportunities due to their close proximity to land.

For a copy of the paper please visit http://journals.cambridge.org/repo_A79zq6Cg

Dr Simon Berrow

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