IWDG establish identity of Killer whales....update

6th Apr 2010 Report 3: Update 6/04/10.

The run of sightings of our largest dolphin species, the killer whale, shows little sign of coming to an end. In the past month IWDG have validated no less than 6 sightings of this apex predator, all of which can be mapped on our "advanced" search facility on this site. But they are as follows:

6th March: Killer whale x5 off Inishturk, Co. Galway

27th March: Killer whale x2 off West Cork

27th March: Killer whale x4-5 Baltimore, West Cork

2nd April: Killer whale x2 off Saltees, Co. Wexford

2nd April: Killer whale x2 off Doolin, Co. Clare

4th April: Killer whale x2 off Blasket Snd, Co. Kerry

There is a strong possibility that most of these 4 sightings of two adults, comprising a bull and a smaller animal, likely to be a "cow", are of the same pair, and if this is the case, it's interesting to see how much ground they can cover. That said, the fact that 2 sightings on Friday 2nd Apr were both of a pair, from Counties Wexford and Clare tells us that at time of writing there is more than one pair currently working our coastline. An exciting prospect for those of you yet to observe this magnificent species in Irish waters.

Report 2: Update 4/04/10.

With a forecast that was for the wind to freshen I headed out to Slea Head early to catch the dawn calm with the intention of doing a constant effort watch.

I set the scope up ready and then lifted the binoculars to my eyes for a preliminary scan of the south side of the Blasket sound , a good feeding spot. And there slap bang in the centre of my field of view was the unmistakeable sight of a big bull orca lazily surfacing, closely followed by a smaller second animal.

In the calm conditions they were milling around in the tidal flow whilst I was sending out word by phone to local IWDG members. After fifteen minutes or so the orcas then began to move north through the sound past the 800 plus seals hauled up on the Blasket Trá Bán, seemingly indifferent to their presence. With IWDG back up arriving now, some still in their pyjamas, it meant monitoring the orcas movement past the headlands was considerably easier now. They passed by Dunmore Head following a general bearing north and hugging the coastline. Their mainly slow progress was interspersed with occasional bursts of speed and white water though no associated bird activity was witnessed.

With a view to try and get some photo ID shots the crew of observers sped for Clogher Head ahead of the orcas. With the animals obliging and passing some 50 metres off the headland some images were then taken from the cliff top vantage. Though not the close up shots you would get from a boat platform these pictures will still hopefully confirm the ID of these orca. The possibility being of course that this is a re-sighting of the animals recently documented off West Cork.

Thanks to Suzanne Murtagh, Britta Wilkens, Sue Redican and Jill Crosher for all their assistance.

By Nick Massett.

Report 1: 01/04/10.

Last weekend's West Cork sightings of basking sharks were all the more interesting, as a pod of 4-5 killer whales were seen at the same time and in the same area by several observers. It would be interesting to prove if there this was mere coincidence, or whether the two sighting events are somehow linked. There is anecdotal evidence of predation by this apex predator on basking sharks in both Scottish and Cornish waters.

Images taken by John Dennihy from Colin Barnes whale-watching vessel, the MV Holly Jo during an angling c

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