Fin whales arrive in numbers off West Cork....Update

10th Aug 2014

Report II, 09/08/2014

A compilation of validated sighting reports from West Cork area between the Old Head of Kinsale and the Kedge area suggests there are likely to be upwards of 30 fin whales along this 50 km stretch of coastline now, but this estimate may be conservative. Colin Barnes who has spent several weeks now observing the build-up of this activity confirms there are huge "fish clouds" comprising small sprat or larval herring in the area and these are likely to be attracting the fin whales in such numbers. We'll keep you posted on this significant activity which is unusually early for the time of year.

Fin whales, Galley Head area, Co. Cork 09/08/14 © Daniel Lettice










Report 1, 08/08/2014

Combined estimates from land and boat based sightings suggest there could be 20 or more fin whales Balaenoptera physalus now in the waters between Seven Heads and Galley head, Co. Cork. We'll keep you posted as this situation evolves, but this gathering is certainly the largest validated aggregation of this species so far this year. Although not without precedent, it is unusual for so many fin whales to be inshore this early in the "large whale season". We generally associate this sort of activity with a later peak between October-December each year. 

As always we encourage whale watchers to try and view them from land-based vantage points, and our recommendations based on current sightings are elevated sites such as: Cloghna Head, Galley Head, Sandscove/Ardfield, Dunworley and Sevens Heads. As always, you'll need a decent pair of binoculars but ideally a spotting scope to view them well from land.  There is a lot of wind out there at the moment so important to pick your moments when there is a lull in the breeze and the sea calms down.  

Groups of 3 fin whales surface next to whale watch boat  © Colin Barnes

This activty is not however in isolation as Co. Kerry has enjoyed a lovely run of humpback whales in recent weeks and minke whales are appearing in the Irish Sea, including a rare sighting last week of a one c20 kms off Bray Head, Co. Wicklow. All this whale activity bodes well for this year's All- Ireland Whale Watch day on Sunday 24th August between 2:00-5:00pm. More information on this to follow shortly.

A big thanks to local IWDG members Colin Barnes, Daniel Lettice and Colin Barton for keeping us updated on this developing fin whale story and to Mark Gannon for his reports from further east. 

The latest validated cetacean sightings can be searched on This fantastic resource is only available because of the sighting records we receive from IWDG members and the general public. A huge thanks to all our "effort recorders" who volunteer their time to carry out systematic land- based watches and to the many hundreds of people who report their "casual observations" online to IWDG. It is shaping up nicely to be another fascinating summer of whale and dolphin sightings from around the country.

If you'd like to support whale and dolphin conservation in Ireland why not take out membership of the IWDG and become actively involved in our activities.

Pádraig Whooley

IWDG Sightings Officer


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