12 December 2017

Lovely Basking Shark Images…

These lovely images were taken recently by one of our customers Les Dean from Suffolk in the UK…a lovely calm day…clear water…and gorgeous basking shark activity…

Lovely images Les, thank you for sharing…

Basking Shark by Les Dean 1

Basking Shark by Les Dean 2

Basking Shark by Les Dean 3

LATEST POST – Great Finish To The Week…

What a lovely week…weather and sightings.

Great sightings and lovely weather concluded an excellent April. Some lovely sightings of Risso’s Dolphins made the week for many of our customers but also good Minke Whale sightings and more Basking Sharks under a warm sun and on calm seas enhanced the tours we have run every day this week.

Here are just some of the images we managed to get amid the excitement…

Basking Shark

 We have had several Basking Shark sightings this week…

Fulmar - our very own albatross

  

a not very good - Risso's Dolphin

I called my friend Micheál when we found these Risso’s Dolphins and he managed to get this shot of Voyager and customers enjoying the company of these enigmatic animals as they foraged between the tip Cape Clear Island and the iconic landmark (or is it seamark) …The Fastnet Rock and Lighthouse…one of the top 10 most famous lighthouses in the world!

Voyager among Risso's Dolphins

Thanks for the image Micheál…

Minke Whale Feeding

ENDS…for now!

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.

ENDS

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.

ENDS

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)

A great new App from iTunes by green tourism journalist Catherine Mack

“…Eco green is the best of Ireland’s already famous forty shades. This guide will have you donning your hiking boots, packing your panniers, wriggling into a wetsuit, and galloping across beaches. Green places to stay include lakeside lodges, yurt camps, island retreats, eco-castles, grand houses with more than just grand green gestures, yoga retreats, community-run hostels, switched-on hotels and activity centres throughout the island of Ireland, North and South of the border. You can also find out how to get to all these places using public transport, encouraging car users to think again. Going green on holiday is not about having a guilt trip, it’s about discovering a real Ireland, meeting great people, eating fine local food and seeing all the gems that Ireland has to offer, not just the emeralds…”

…so says the introduction to this new app available now from the iTunes store. This App has been developed by the well known green tourism journalist Catherine Mack.

More details may be seen at the following link…

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ireland-green-travel/id427184283?mt=8

ENDS

Support Sea Shepherd Ireland

An evening with Sea Shepherd Ireland

On Monday 28 March

@ 7:00 Beginning with the Film “First 30 years of Sea Shepherd”

Followed by the Quiz Night with spot prizes and finger food

A Good Night with the film and quiz open to students and general public.

Location NUIG, Corrib Room, College Bar

For further details contact Sue Anthony on 086 067 9933

ENDS

Not far off but in good numbers…NEW POST

Reports coming in from the pelagic fishing boats off the west coast of Ireland indicate large numbers of Pilot Whales (almost certainly Long Finned Pilot Whales) around 50-60 miles off the southwestern coast and exhibiting the classic spyhopping behaviour so characteristic of the group of large dolphins known as the “blackfish”.


Pilot Whales © Whale Watch West Cork




Further reports from the mackerel boats operating off Donegal out of Killybegs have encountered large numbers of Orca feeding off the mackerel as they are being hauled. Some of you may remember this behaviour being recorded for Orca groups in the North Sea and documented on the TV programme Autumnwatch in 2010.

It is possible that this behaviour is being widely learnt by Orca groups around the British, Scottish and Irish coasts and we may hear more reports of this opportunistic behaviour.

What I wouldn’t give to be there and see it first hand!

ENDS

Stranded Pilot Whales on Rutland Island

Reports have come into WWWC this afternoon of around 30 Pilot Whales having stranded on a beach in Donegal off Rutland Island. There animals are thought to be mainly mothers and calves which is very sad. There are no survivors.

It is thought that these may be part of a group seen feeding in the waters off Aranmore Island during this past few days.

The cause of this mass stranding is unclear.

ENDS

STOP PRESS…STOP PRESS

WHALE BLOWS REPORTED OFF MILL COVE…

WWWC received a report of blows of up to 7 whales off Mill Cove this evening. Probably Fin Whales we will report further when we have the full facts.

We had reports of Fin Whales off Ballycotton two weeks ago, but some way off.

Watch this space.

ENDS

Wall to Wall Fine Weather..and fine sightings…

With probabley the best stretch of fine weather on record over the past eight weeks we have been having sightings to match…

From excellent sightings of lunge feeding Minke Whales around the Calf Islands and Tourane Rocks to an estimated 500 Common Dolphins as far up Roaringwater Bay as the Mullin Rock our sightings culminated last night with 5 Risso’s Dolphins close into The Gascanane Sound accompanied by a group of around 75 Common Dolphins feeding. One of the Risso’s had a curled over dorsal fin just like the adult Killer Whale we sighted a few weeks ago.

Lovely tail slapping and breaching behaviour from the Risso’s Dolphins with the characteristic “line abreast” feeding strategy of the Common Dolphins. All in the evening sunlight as the sun set over Cape Clear and the Islands of Roaringwater Bay…magic.

ENDS

Exhibition of Nature Photography by Sheena Jolley…

The renowned wildlife photographer Sheena Jolley brings her stunning exhibition of wildlife photographs to Kinsale. To be opened by the journalist Donal  Musgrave on 6th July at 6pm in her new gallery in Kinsale,  “Island Magic” promises to be a truly magical experience. Sheena brings a quality and “feel” to her wildlife images seldom seen in other wildlife photographers.

Full details of Sheena’s forthcoming exhibition and other details of her work may be seen at her website:

http://www.sheenajolleyphotography.com/

Killer Whales in Baltimore Bay…and minkes and sunfish!

Following several days of stunning Minke Whale and Harbour Porpoise sightings we headed out again this morning on a glassy sea with slight swell anticipating finding some feeding Minke Whales offshore…

…a few moments later I picked up an animal surfacing around 100 metres away. Unmistakably the dorsal fin of a young male Killer Whale. Further scanning picked up two more. A larger animal and a younger, adolescent male by the shape of the dorsal fin. The larger animal had a completely bent over, curled dorsal fin. This happens occasionally, even in wild animals, but it is the first time I have seen this in a wild Killer Whale.

Killer Whales are an uncommon sighting along this part of the south coast so it is expecially exciting to be able to log this in addition to the great Minke Whale sightings we have been having. Later in the trip we encountered a large, feeding Minke Whale in Long Island sound no more than a mile off the old castle of Doonanore.

The presence of Killer Whales so close inshore might have accounted for the lack of Harbour Porpoise normally encountered when crossing Roaringwater Bay!!

All topped off with a medium sized, but rather shy, Atlantic Sunfish…

ENDS

A stunning weekend of Minkes, Baskers, Porpoises and sunshine…

Wow. What a weekend!

Stunning views of all three iconic species for this time of year. The Minky Whales were very cooperative with some lovely feeding behaviour underneath clouds of Gannets diving into the water and Manx Shearwaters “buzzing” back and forth across the waters surface…both east and west of Cape Clear.

With the strong sunshine the plankton is high in the water column resulting in several Basking Shark sightings in all the old haunts along the Sherkin and Cape shorelines and as far east as Barlogue.

As if that was not enough the Porpoise sightings have been sublime. A shy, retiring little cetacean, sightings can sometimes be a little short…not so this weekend. Lovely views of this pretty little animal have made all our many customers very happy as we basked in the beautiful West Cork sunshine amid calm seas.

Weather pattern looking like holding for the immediate future…

ENDS