Large whale watching off the southeast.8th Feb 2018
Report update, Feb. 8th 2018
Andrew Malcolm reports another Co. Waterford fin whale sighting yesterday Wed. 7th Feb. in the area 5-10 Km south of Helvic Head. Due to the distances involved, to observe this and any other whales that may be in the area, good optics will be required. This latest sighting suggests that large whales are now likely to be spread out over an 80 Km stretch of coastline between east Cork and West Wexford.
Report 1. Feb. 5th 2018
It's been a quiet winter period for whale watchers with a particular interest in "large whales" along the Irish south coast, with only four validated sighting records of fin or humpbacks during Dec. 2017, and a single record in Jan. 2018, of 3 fin whales in Dungarvan Bay, Co. Waterford on Jan 14th, which were seen by Andrew Malcolm and Ann Trimble. It's a difficult time of year for cetacean sighting records, as our ability to observe what are generally distant animals from shore using optics is largely determined by the weather, and as we all know it has been a record year for wind and rain (not in a good way). But on a more positive note a nice settled spell over the latter half of this weekend gave whale enthusiasts a rare opportunity to get out to the headlands and onto boats and consequently there were some very nice sightings reported to IWDG.
Among the sites that stand out were Knockadoon head, East Cork, where Colm MacSweeney reported what are most likely to be fin whales (max. 3) on both Sunday 4th and today Monday 5th Feb. While further east off the Dunmore East/Hook Head area on the Waterford/Wexford border, Brendan Gloady treated his passengers to some memorable sightings of the planet's 2nd largest animal, fin whales, about 8 Km south of the Hook Lighthouse (see images below by Denise O' Meara), while IWDG member Paul Kedney observed a breaching humpback from shore in the same area also on Sunday 4th Feb. While all this activity was going on there were boat based whales watches from Reen Pier, near Union Hall, and land based watches from the Beara Peninsula, and while these produced plenty of sightings of harbour porpoises and common dolphins, they produced no whales of any species.
In keeping with previous years, it seems the large whale activity has pushed east along the Celtic Sea, as the predators follow the spawning herring. So as always keep a very close eye on your weather Apps and once you see a widening of those isobars and any sign of high pressure, our advise is pick a good headland anywhere from East Cork, along the Waterford coast, extending east towards the Hook Head lighthouse or Baginbun and carry out a watch.....oh, and please let us know how you get on, by reporting your sightings to us here on www.iwdg.ie. Your sightings matter.
Padraig Whooley, IWDG Sightings Officer