Another view from our offshore waters19th Jul 2017
The annual inshore arrival of the commonly observed whale species like the minke, fin and humpback whales has been well documented by IWDG over many years. We've a pretty good idea as to which species are most likely to occur, where and when and what they're doing while they are in our waters. And because these 3 species make up over 95% of whale sightings reported to IWDG, you could easily forget that there are other whale species that pass through our offshore waters and go largely undetected by whale enthusiasts and researchers alike.
IWDG has been delighted to collaborate over many years now with the Irish Air Corp's, Maritime Squadron, whose CASA fixed wing plane routinely carries out offshore missions within the Irish EEZ. Two weeks ago they took a wonderful series of images depicting the carcass of a whale being scavenged by blue sharks. See Mick O Connels' piece below this article. The following week they found themselves flying equally far offshore but in an area known as the Whittard Canyon systems, which is about 230 miles SSW of Mizen Head and just on the boundry between Irish, UK and French waters. On Friday 14th July they took a series of images of a solitary sperm whale, a mature adult male and even captured the moment that it tail fluked, which isn't something that we get to see too often as they are such deep divers and can routinely dive for periods of 1 hour or longer.
Unfortunately, for most of us, our engagement with this species is limited to Herman Melville's classic fictional novel "Moby Dick", which was brought to be big screen when Gregory Peck starred in the film adaptation, filmed in Yougal, East Cork in 1955. There are also occasional strandings that occur, and the problem with these is that they usually die so far out to sea, that by the time they come ashore, they make for a pretty grim sight. So it's lovely to capture these giants in good health in their normal habitat.
IWDG extend as always a big thanks to the flight crew and photographers from 101 Squadron and Captain John Butler for his assistance in providing us with the details.
By IWDG Sightings Officer