Report on post-Christmas fin whale activity in Waterford Harbour.

5th Jan 2004 Day 1. Dec 27th

Billy Colfer sends the 1st report of this episode of whale activity, with 5 large whales close inshore at Hook Head, Co. Wexford

Day 2. Dec 28th

Report by Killian Mullarney.

Concerning the whales off Hook Head on Sunday 28th Dec 03. I'm afraid I didn't manage to get any very useful video-footage of the animals themselves. Initially they were very close, and I just looked at them; quite quickly, however, they moved further out and it was then much more difficult to get the video-camera (which was mounted onto my telescope) onto them in time! My impression was that any of the animals I saw reasonably well (I saw at least four large whales) looked very like the Fin Whale I saw while I was out with Colin Barnes, off Union Hall about a month ago. I think there may be a brief section of video of one of the Hook Whales swimming on its side, with a pectoral fin waving about –

Also see Jim Hurleys report on IWDG website of 4-5 large whales from Doornoge Pt. (Grid ref X730 980) at the mouth of Waterford Hbr. on 28th Dec, same animals presumably.

Day 3. Dec 29th

Report by Pete Wolstenholme.

“Best days whale watching ever at Hook Hd on Mon. AM, 29th Dec., with 6 fin whales (1 calf), 2-3 minke whales, and a probable humpback whale, as one was seen to breach and fluke. There were also 20+ dolphins in the Bay. Large whales moved out in PM. Fin slapping observed. Feeding on sprats.

Report from Charlie Kavanagh

I ventured down there yesterday 29th Dec for a look. From the spouts, I reckon there were 7 or 8 Fin whales constantly surfacing about a mile S/SW of the lighthouse. We also sighted and identified a large school of Common Dolphins (c.40/50) and a small pod of Risso's (4 or 5) close inshore on the E side of the Hook. Visibility was wonderful.

I spoke to a guy living locally - he has had several sightings of the whales in as near as 100m from the shore and he has regularily heard them blowing close by during the night. He claims there was a huge school of Dolphins up in the estuary over Xmas - up to 1,000, he claims.

Day 4. Dec 30th

Report by Dominic Berridge, NPWS Conservation Ranger.

On Tuesday 30 December 2003 we could be sure only of 3 large whales, probably fin whales; comprising 2 adults & 1 calf. There was a big pod of c20-30+ small dolphins, perhaps common dolphins well offshore dashing about the place and one Harbour Porpoise.

Dec. 31st: No sightings reported to IWDG in unsuitable weather conditions for whale watching.

Day 5. Jan 1st

Report by Larry Donnelly who observed 5 fin whales on 1st Jan 04 off Hook Hd.

Also 20 Common dolphins off Ardmore Hd cliffs in the afternoon, texted by Jim Wilson.

Day 6. Jan 2nd

Neil Wilson and family observe c 4-5 fin whales and 200+ common dolphins off Hook Hd.

Day 7. Jan 3rd

Neil Wilson sees fin whales again from Hook Hd

Day 8. Jan 4th 2004

Report by Jim Hurley

It was flat calm here this morning Sun. 4th Jan, but there was a sea fog. The fog lifted at noon but the sea freshened during the afternoon so conditions for whale watching were not ideal. Michael O'Flaherty, a fisherman in Kilmore Quay, 'phoned me earlier tonight 4th Jan. to report that there are large shoals of Herring and Sprat moving off Hook Head. The fishery for them opened at 12 noon today 4th Jan. and five pairs of herring boats worked the area during the afternoon. One boat was from Castletownbere, another from Dingle, operating out of Dunmore East. Hugh Doyle, skipper of the MFV Hornriss, Kilmore Quay, reported to Michael that large whales were blowing to the landwards of where he was working 6 miles south of Hook Head. Over the 2-hour period from 3-5 p.m. this afternoon, Michael himself saw several tall blows from Hook Head through binoculars. Two of the blows were side-by-side. He r

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