Humpback Whales Return to West Cork

14th Jan 2002 Throughout October, November and up to the end of December large baleen whales (mostly fin whales but including sei and humpback whales) were observed on almost 100% of watches under optimum environmental conditions from west Cork. This activity reached fever pitch in the week running up to Christmas, which produced humpback whales (including a mother and calf pair) on Dec. 18th, 22nd and 24th off the Old Head of Kinsale and further west on Galley Head on Dec. 26th. On several occasions fin and humpback whales were observed in close association, clearly demonstrating their significant behavioural and physical differences.

Confirmed sightings of humpback whales are rare in Irish waters and this recent series of encounters of a mother and calf and a second group of 3 adults is we hope a sign of a recovery of this most acrobatic of our rorqual species. It certainly makes me wonder why they are absent from our IWDG species identification poster, which we will put right on our next print run. Who knows, perhaps the Blue whale will be the next one to pass our viewfinders in the coming years!

For the 3rd year running, fin whales have been encountered more frequently than minke whales in the area between Kinsale and Union Hall (where watch effort is concentrated).

Colin Barnes runs trips out to see these whales (weather permitting) and can be contacted on 028-36232 or 086-3273226 for info.

By Pádraig Whooley

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