Waterford weekend round up-midweek update...29th Sep 2010 A watch from Ram Head this morning yielded no more big whales but there was a bonus as a mixed group of bottlenose and Risso's dolphins swam close inshore underneath the cliffs. This latter species brings the total of species seen from this headland to 6 since Saturday's watch.
The fin whales seen on Saturday were also the first we've recorded in the month of September since effort watches began at Ram Head in 2003. This means that April is now the only month of the year in which they haven't been recorded from this large whale hot spot. That watch on Saturday was also our 300th effort watch from Ardmore so it was a spectacular way to celebrate this milestone with 5 species seen. (see below for details)
After receiving calls from Bernadette Foley and Ray Harty-Manager Dungarvan Shellfish Ltd-that a common dolphin had stranded at the Cunnigar, Dungarvan, I was driven there by NPWS ranger Brian Duffy. We discovered the dolphin being supported in the water by 3 people. This included Kite Skool instructor Lawrence Boland who by an incredible stroke of luck was teaching 2 men both of whom were vets!
After several unsuccessful attempts to refloat the dolphin, as it was obviously in quite a deal of distress it was felt that the only course of action was to euthanize the animal. Peter, one of the vets, fortunately had his veterinary equipment across the bay at the Gold Coast Hotel. On his return, following the guidelines in the IWDG booklet Face to Face with a Beached Whale' he quickly and humanely put the unfortunate animal out of its misery.
Unfortunately this is the usual outcome of such an event, we were just extremely fortunate in this case to have a vet on hand to deal with the situation. As standby we also had another local vet David Connors also turn up to offer his assistance. Many thanks to all those involved.
The dolphin which had obvious issues with its teeth as well as being blind in 1 eye was later removed to UCC for post mortem.
On a happier note a 2 hour effort watch from Ram Head on Saturday evening yielded 2 fin whales, 1 minke whale, 40 common dolphins, 5 porpoises and a very close encounter with the same group of 5 adult bottlenose dolphins with 1 calf that we had seen twice earlier this month. This meant we had encountered a Ram Head record of an impressive tally of 5 different species of cetacean in a single watch.
The bottlenose dolphins passed so close to shore that Ann even managed to get some photos-maybe not good enough for ID purposes but certainly good enough to confirm species identity!
Andrew Malcolm & Ann Trimble, IWDG
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