Settled weather produces nice spread of sightings.

13th Apr 2011 Last weekend's settled weather (9-10th April) produced a nice spread of cetacean and basking shark sightings from around Ireland's coast, which comprised at least seven species: harbour porpoise, common, bottlenose & Risso's dolphins, minke and killer whales and of course basking sharks. The latter will likely feature heavily among sighting reports for the next few months, until they start to fall of our radars in late June. But great to receive sighting reports of groups of 20+ sharks from multiple sites, that spread out between Malin Head, Co. Donegal and Offshore Co. Wexford.

Infact special mention must go out to Emmett Johnston of the Irish Basking Shark Study Group for successfully getting 18 colour tags out on Sunday 10th off Malin Head, on a day when c30 sharks were observed. But other reports from Omey Island, Co. Donegal, Dursey Isl., Co. Cork and offshore Co. Wexford, over the weekend show just how widespread this species has become since they started arriving less than a month ago.

Just for good measure, Emmett also had some lovely early minke whale encounters in mirror calm seas, in the same areas where sharks were being observed in numbers, (see photo) thus presenting IWDG with the 1st minke images of the year. Other highlights hail from just off the Dublin coast, when Paddy Coughlan and friends fishing off the MV Saradane c4.5 miles Northeast of Howth had a run with two adult male killer whales. Unfortunatly, despite two boats witnessing the spectacle of this sub-pod travelling south down the Irish Sea, no images were secured. But Paddy's description of their 5ft dorsal fins and 25ft + size, leaves little doubt as to their species.


It's great to see the three bottlenose dolphins still showing regularly between Killiney Bay, Bray and south towards Greystones, Co. Wicklow. Dave Wall picked them up off Dalkey Sound over the weekend. If they remain in the area until July, they'll have been in the area for a year and we may need to consider referring to them as "resident", which is a bit of a lose term at the best of times!

So in the right weather conditions, there is fantastic sea watching potential out there at present, which is great given that the March-May period is often considered to be the "low season" by us whale watchers.....something we may need to review given the current run of sightings and species mix. Now that our online reporting on www.iwdg.ie is re-instated, we'd hope that casual observers will log on and report your sightings to IWDG, as this is really the most efficient way for us to validate all records.

A huge thanks as always to everyone who reported sightings to IWDG over the weekend. You know who you are.

Pádraig Whooley

Sightings Co-ordinator