Humpback and fin whales off the Irish Southeast

20th Jan 2016

Humpback whale fluking, The Hook, by Myles Carroll PhotographyYou'll see from the Recent Sightings on the left side of this website's homepage a sample list of the 10 most recent validated sightings from around the country, and if you select the Mapping option at the bottom of the list, it's hard not to notice that whale sightings are predominantly coming from the Southeast area. Land-based effort watches by Andrew Malcolm & Ann Trimble from Ram Head, Ardmore, Co. Waterford over the weekend have produced large whale sightings in the waters between Youghal Bay and Mine Head. Both fin whales (5+) and a single humpback whale have also been recorded over the weekend during a whale watch trip with Martin Colfer, South Coast Charter Angling (image by Myles Carroll left), with similar activity Hook Hd/Baginbun area on 19th Jan, report and cover image by local fisher, Cian Daniels.

As large whales don't keep to our calendar year, this annual southeast flurry of large whale sightings represents the tail-end our our large whale season. And what a season it has been, especially for the humpback whale; which have enjoyed a record year both in terms of frequency of sightings since they first appeared in early May off the Slea Head Peninsula, Co. Kerry (courtesy of Nick Massett), and growth in the Irish Humpback whale catalogue which has almost doubled during 2015, from 35 recognisable tail-flukes to 65+.

IWDG extend a huge thanks to all our members, operators, agency staff and of course members of the public who have supported our recording schemes by reporting cetacean sightings to us online. Work on our website is ongoing, in terms of populating it with the 2015 sightings backlog and rebuilding some of the enquiries that existed on our old website, which will allow you reasonable access to validated sightings data. Please bear with us as re-buidling a website from scratch is not a simple task, and takes time.

In summary, if you want to catch some late season whale sightings, you should head towards the Waterford/Wexford vantage points on those rare weather windows.  But as always cetaceans can and do occurr anywhere and at any time, as evidenced by yesterday's sightings off bottlenose dolphins from both Toormore Bay in West Cork and the Gobbins cliffs, Co. Antrim. Enjoy, and let us know how you get on by reporting your observations on www.iwdg.ie.

Pádraig Whooley

IWDG Sightings Officer