16 November 2018

Basking Sharks and Risso’s Dolphins…

The warm sunshine is bring the phytoplankton to the surface waters and this is attracting the Basking Sharks. We encountered three “Baskers” this afternnon on the south side of Sherkin Island all good sized animals of around 7 metres long. It is lovely to start to get regular sightings of these huge animals…the second largist fish in the world!

Ian O’Driscoll phoned through a possible sighting of Killer Whales today but searches by another boat this morning did not reveal this species…later this afternoon however, WWWC encountered a group of Risso’s Dolphins between Cape Clear and The Fastnet Rock and Lighthouse heading east from The Mizen Head. It is likely these were the animals seen this morning and thought to be Killer Whales. They were all large animals with very large dorsal fins and are the species most commonly confused with Killer Whales.

We were stopped by a small boat during this afternoon tour who had been around The Mizen and they said they had seen many more animals earlier in the day including some very young Risso’s Dolphins. A lovely sighting of this unusual species.


Minke Whales, Porpoises and Killer Whales…

Well, April is going out with a bang!

Stunning weather and lovely sea conditions have enabled us to get out every day for the past two weeks with some lovely early sightings of Harbour Porpoises and Common Dolphins…it is quite early to be seeing the Dolphins. Very heartening to see the Porpoises with very young animalsin attendance.

Minke Whales in the sunshine yesterday off Goat Island in Roaringwater Bay were a great culmination to several days of good sightings amongst a large group of Gannets. The animals had stopped feeding by the time we arrived.

Reports this morning are coming in of Killer Whales off The Brow Head…possibly attacking a Minke Whale…we are heading out now to investigate…watch this space.


Great sightings for early April…

Although April is early in the season and sightings can be a little sporadic we have really had some lovely sightings this past two weeks during some really excellent weather.

For the third time this month we have encountered a rather shy and retiring Minke Whale east of Cape Clear island, a traditionally excellent spot for Minkes, but usually later in the season. We suspect there were two animals but could only confirm the presence of one animal.

Since our early April Basking Shark sighting off  The Kedges we have not encountered any more but the sea conditions have not been conducive to sighting these fish, the second largest fish in the world! May going into June is usually a better sighting time for Baskers but with evident plankton blooms in the water we may start to get regular views of this amazing animal earlier in the season.

We have had some lovely early Harbour Porpoise sightings around the islands of Roaringwater Bay and east to the Toe Head – single animals and in small “family” groups. These lovely little animals, the smallest of the toothed whale species to come into Irish waters during this part of the season, are greatly underrated. Shy and retiring and not liking boats, engines or people very much, good sightings as we have had this week, are a real treat.

The highlight of this week has to be the encounter with a group of 40+ Short Beaked Common Dolphins, unusually right in Roaringwater Bay close into the Gascanane Sound. We had a supergroup towards the end of last season in the same place numbering over 500 animals. It is quite unusual to see such a large group this early in the season but was a real treat for our customers that day which started off a little misty.

Short-beaked Common Dolphins

On a sadder note a very decomposed body of a small toothed whale washed up on the beach of one of Toe Head during the last two days. Thanks to Rory Jackson who notified WWWC immediately he found it managed to get some pictures on his camera phone before the tide reclaimed it. Looking at the pictures (very difficult as it was so decomposed) we are fairly sure that it is a Risso’s Dolphin or small Pilot Whale. Live and dead strandings have been on the increase in Ireland over the past few years, a worrying trend given the ever increasing strains being put on marine ecosystems both here and elsewhere in the world.

Mid Section of Dead Whale

Great weather for early sightings

With the fantastic weather during the last few weeks we have been running tours from the end of March having had early sightings of minke whale and basking sharks off Toe Head and The Kedges respectively during the closing days of the first quarter. Reports of basking shark sightings off the west and east coast were also recorded by sharp eyed individuals enjoying the Spring sunshine.

Although we have a spell of a few days of unsettled weather coming through at the moment the week forecast is looking good and we anticipate a return to settled weather towards the end of the week when we will be able to start getting further afield for early sightings off The galley Head, The Mizen Head and around The Fastnet Rock and Lighthouse.

This all bodes well for this summer being another cracker like last year with equally stunning sightings to match. With the increase in plankton blooms inshore we anticipate more basking shark activity once the inshore water calm further.

Baslking Shark off The Kedges

Minke Whale (taken 2010)