Killer whales in Newfoundland Bay, Nr. Oysterhaven, Co. Cork

14th Mar 2012 IWDG confirm two records of a pair of killer whales within an eight day interval, close to Barry's Head, Newfoundland Bay, c4 miles east of Kinsale, Co. Cork on both 5th and 13th March 2012.

The 1st sighting report was made by John Murphy and Richard Cussen on 5th March and was accompanied by strong images of one adult male (bull) and a second smaller animal, most likely an adult female (images below). They were travelling west within 500m of shore. It is not possible to determine from the images whether they are known individuals currently on the Irish or Scottish killer whale catalogues, or whether these are previously unrecorded.

The second sighting yesterday 13th March was from the same area, but due to the distance (1 mile) no images were obtained. Although we can't be certain, it is likely that these are the same pair returning to the area. They were seen breaching, and this provided Stephan Lautram with good views of their complex black and white patterning and enabled him to estimate their length at c20ft+.

While there is nothing all that unusual about a killer whale sighting in Irish waters; in a typical year IWDG validate about a dozen records of this apex predator. It is interesting that they have stayed close to their original position and suggests they may have found "rich pickings".

So this could be a wonderful opportunity for local whale watchers or wildlife enthusiasts to keep an eye out on this stretch of water, in what is typically "low season" for whale watching in Irish waters. Look out for the diagnostic and remarkably tall dorsal fins (5ft+ on bull), bushy blow and sleek and powerful black frames with white/pale saddle patch behind dorsal fin and brilliant white eye patches. But they are easy to tell apart from any other dolphin species in our waters.

IWDG would like to hear from you if you feel you have seen them, as we'd be interested in following this up. Enjoy!

By Pádraig Whooley

Sightings Co-ordinator

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