Large Whale Project
This project commenced in 2003 and aimed to study areas along the Irish south and southwest coast that were thought to be ecologically significant for large whales, namely fin and humpback whales. Initial funding support came from the Heritage Council, Marine Institute and Fáilte Ireland. Waters from Cape Clear Island to the Old Head of Kinsale, Co. Cork were surveyed during the autumn which was the peak for large whale sightings in the region as derived from previous land-based watches. Aerial surveys then took place to increase the odds of finding whales by boat.
Plankton sampling, photo-identification and acoustic monitoring occurred on each survey from the Cork Whale Watch vessel MV Holly Jo. These surveys produced regular sightings of humpback and fin whales and initiated the Irish Photo-Identification catalogues for both these iconic species.
These early surveys enhanced our understanding of how large whales use the waters along the Irish South coast and helped seed further large whale research projects.