Fin whales still off the south coast-update

12th Feb 2011 Report II, 10th Feb

During a 2 hour watch from Red Head, near Dunmore East County Waterford on Thurs 10th Feb., Gay Palmer (IWDG) observed 3 fin whales and sent in this report...

"...The visibility was good and the sea calm although it began to get a bit choppy towards the end of the watch. The animals were feeding approximately 5 to 6 miles offshore in close proximity to boats that were fishing for herring. Although the whales were not visible with the naked eye they were clearly identifiable through binoculars or a scope."

These animals are likely to stay in the area for a while yet as in the last few years they have been recorded as being in residence up until the end of February. So hopefully there will still be chances (weather permitting) to get out there and witness these amazing creatures.

Report I, 2nd Feb

Even though the previous day had provided no sightings it was with great optimism that we left Duncannon harbour on Sunday morning.

With the sea glassy still and with superb light conditions it was felt sure that if there were any cetaceans out there we would have no excuses in failing to spot them!

Martin headed out to the region where humpback HBIRL13 had been spotted in the previous few weeks but unfortunately there was no sign of it. He then decided to try searching the waters to the west in county Waterford which is where we had our first encounter of the day as Ann spotted a group of common dolphins interacting with a RIB that was out filming for TG4.

This group of 20 or more animals contained many young animals that were still showing neo-natal folds.

However there were no signs of any whales in this area so we headed back towards Hook Head. As we steamed eastwards Martin received a call informing him that there were whales amongst several fishing boats about 5 miles south of the Hook.

There we encountered a group of 3 fin whales feeding tightly together, with a fourth animal observed off in the distance.

Then there was a sighting of a minke whale very close to one of the boats. I have never encountered a minke whale in the southeast at this time of year and its appearance came as a massive surprise to me. We remained with the fin whales just long enough for us to get several photographs that should tell us whether these were animals revisiting our waters or whether in fact they were new to our shores and could be added to the IWDG photo ID catalogue. Photo ID Fin Whales

Many thanks go out to Martin Colfer for his persistence in finding these animals and giving everyone on board another fantastic day out.

Andrew Malcolm IWDG

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