Minke Whales Abound, Cape Clear Island, West Cork

20th May 2003 Since early May Cape Clear Island and the waters around West Cork have been producing prodigious whale-watching, with almost daily multiple sightings of minke whales that have now been joined by killer whalesÂ…..

On May 20th three minke whales were observed in Gaiscanaun Sound between Cape Clear and Sherkin Island, Co. Cork, along with an adult male killer whale, which was observed and filmed in the same area by Cape Clear Bird Observatory warden, Steve Wing. A fourth minke was also seen from Bullig on Cape Clear on the same day.

On 19th May a single minke whale was seen from Bullig, while on May 18th 3 minkes (one of which was a juvenile) were also observed in Gaiscanaun Sound.

On Sat. 17th a single adult male killer whale was seen close to the mouth of South Hbr. on Cape Clear, which we assume was the same killer whale that was seen today.

Killer Whale passing the Cliffs at BulligThis minke whale activity has been observed on a near daily basis since May 5th. IWDG committee members Phyllis Ryan & Nick Channon saw at least three minke whales most days while on Cape Clear between May 6th-9th, on occasion the whales, which comprised two adults and a calf were seen feeding within a stones throw of the Cliffs at Bullig.

This high level of minke whale activity is early for May, as sightings of this species over the last 4 years indicate that minke whales have a summer distribution.

This activity has not been restricted to Cape Clear, as Colin Barnes observed big numbers of 12-15 minke whales further east, in the area between The Stags and Castletownshend, West Cork on May 14th. Colin reports that the minkes are feeding on lesser sand eels. Colin is available for whale-watching charters and can be contacted on 086-3273226 for bookings.

Incidentally, while on the subject of killer whales, the report of a pod of killer whales in Cork Hbr. last weekend (May 16th & 17th) that appeared in the Examiner, seems to have been a case of either wishful thinking, or just plain bad journalism. We have not spoken to anybody who could validate this sighting. Sorry if any of you went on the twitch!

Moving up north coast, on May 17th Robin Ruddock reported a minke whale off Ramore Hd, Co. Antrim, while not too far away on the same day, the IWDG committee, badly in need of fresh air and a break from a four hour committee meeting marathon, went out to Mullaghmore Hd., Co. Sligo for a short watch and saw a minimum of 2-3 minke whales in Donegal Bay and around St. John's Pt.

Mullaghmore is very assessable and whale-watches can be conducted with ease from the scenic car park, or even inside your cars, in case of inclement weather.

Please report any cetacean sightings to us via our on line reporting procedure on this website

Pádraig Whooley