First humpback whale sighting record for Dursey Island, Co. Cork22nd Jun 2014
We're forwarding this account received today (22nd June) from Derek & Joanna Scott of remarkable minke and humpback whale activity off Dursey Island on the Beara Peninsula, Co. Cork. Each year IWDG receive a comprehensive Cetacean Report from Dursey Island, which is compiled by Derek based on sightings made primarily by ornithologists (some of whom are IWDG members) and this is the first time they have observed a humpback whale from Dursey. So an important day for biological recording on this beautiful Island. The 1st humpback whale sighting record of the season came from Simon Berrow and Enda Mc Keogh during a research cruise on the RV Celtic Voyager c4 miles SE Galley Head (see image) on 17th May, and this latest flurry off Dursey, bring to 8 the total number of humpback whale sighting reports validated by IWDG during the May/June period. Half of these sightings are courtesy of Nick Massett come from the Slea Head/Blaskets area of West Kerry and confirm inter-annual re-sightings of HBIRL23 & 24.
IWDG ask any member of the public fortunate enough to spot a humpback (or any whale) to report your observations to us online on www.iwdg.ie, and any images are invaluable in helping us establish whether the individuial(s) is known to us.
We are now experiencing a great period of whale activity off Tilickafinna, Dursey Island. On 19 June there were at least seven Minke Whales feeding with huge numbers of Gannets in the evening (to at least 22:35 hrs). On 20th, there were at least five Minke Whales in the evening, along with a school of c.40 Common Dolphins. Then yesterday we spotted a Humpback Whale breaching far out to the south-southeast at 18:05 hours. We watched it for the next two and three-quarter hours (to 20:50 hrs), during which time it must have breached at least 150 times. I timed the intervals between 20 breaches and the average between each was 58.7 seconds! We also saw it lying on its back and slapping its pectoral fins on the water (on about 12 occasions in two bouts) and also saw one bout of tail slapping. Extraordinary stuff!! There were also about five Minke Whales much closer inshore, and a distant school of about 10 dolphins. There have been huge numbers of Gannets feeding over a very wide area to the south of Tilickafinna for several days – so there must be a hell of a lot of fish about. Much to our surprise and delight, the Humpback Whale was still around in the same area this morning (about 10 km off to the SSE and S of our house), although it was not breaching. We saw it on and off from 08:30 to 09:35, apparently feeding with a frenzy of Gannets and a small school of dolphins. As far as I am aware, this is the first record of a Humpback Whale off Dursey.
Yesterday also produced a couple of good birds – a female Pied Flycatcher in our garden (very unusual at this time of year) and a superb adult Long-tailed Skua with full tail-streamers, circling lazily high above the sea just below our house and then heading off west.
I trust that you are taking advantage of this fine weather to get out and see lots of great cetaceans.
With best wishes from us both,
Derek and Joanna Scott