Strandings in Mayo and Donegal

14th May 2013

Some unusual stranding events have occurred in recent days off the northwest coast. On Sunday 12 May, seven common dolphins (five adults and two juveniles) live stranded at Tarmon Beach near Blacksod on the Mullet Peninsula, Co. Mayo.  Attempts to refloat them were successful on a number of occasions but one of the juveniles was found dead this morning and another was found alive but in poor condition and had to be euthanased.

On Five Fingers Strand, Inishowen, Co Donegal a beaked whale was found in very fresh condition late on Sunday evening 12 May.  This is a female True's or Sowerby's beaked whale with current opinion more in favour of True's beaked whale, due to the shape of the head and length of the beak. In adult males it is possible to tell these species apart by the position of the two teeth on the lower jaw but in females and juveniles the two teeth are not visible. Samples have been taken and will be sent for analysis to confirm i.d. Either way it is a rare stranding as neither of these two species have been recorded since 2009 in Ireland. There are only nine records for True's beaked whales and fourteen records for Sowerby's beaked whales on the IWDG Strandings Database.

Earlier today (14 May) a dead beaked whale calf was also found stranded in very fresh condition nearby at Trawbreaga Bay and it seems likely that both strandings are connected. Both individuals are being recovered to Athlone Regional Vet Lab tonight for post-mortem examination tommorrow.

Interestingly a Sowerby's beaked whale live stranded in mid-Wales a few days ago . We will update this new piece with further information as and when it becomes available.