12 December 2017

More Minkes…

Blessed with some lovely sunshine around the islands this week we have had some stunning Minke Whale sightings close in around the Gascanane Sound and right into Roaringwater Bay.

Harbour Porpoise activity has increased significantly over the last couple of weeks with some fabulous feeding behaviour being exhibited east of Cape Clear and Sherkin Islands. Many young animals in evidence which is very heartening showing some animated behaviour – for a Porpoise!

Reports submitted to us these past two weeks of Fin Whale activity further offshore with further Humpback Whale sightings in the Irish Sea. Hope they all come this way!

Huge build up of Manx Shearwaters these past weeks has rafts of birds up to 500 strong with some lovely Gannet activity over feeding Minkes.

We are anticipating the August build up in Common Dolphin sightings anytime now. Several sightings so far this year but no very large groups. Lots of reports of Common Dolphins from customers crossing The Irish Sea on the ferry.

Memories still linger of the Bottlenopse Dolphin activity along this part of the West Cork coast during June and July this year…

Watch this space.

Minkes, BND’s, Fins, Humpbacks and Pilot Whales…

The last couple of days has produced sightings by us of Minke Whales off Baltimore Harbour entrance and south of Rabbit Island with a group of Bottlenose Dolphins in the harbour at Baltimore and earlier in the entrance to Union Hall harbour.

Further reports have been sent into Whale Watch West Cork of Bottlenose Dolphins off Castlepoint, around 40 Common Dolphins west of Sherkin Island and Minke Whales southwest of Cape Clear culminating in a colleague delivering a yacht from Dublin to West Cork texting me in the early hours of this morning with news of five Pilot Whales off the Tuskar Rock.

Carefully validated reports sent through to WWWC during the last week or two indicate sightings of Risso’s Dolphins off Cape Clear, a “family” group of Humpbacks in the Irish Sea and Fin Whales off Garretstown, County Cork.

Combined with the numerous Basking Shark, Harbour Porpoise and Sunfish sighting we have recorded during this early summer period it yet again shows West Cork and the southern Irish coast as a mecca for a wide variety of marine wildlife producing some excellent sightings for visitors and locals alike…

Watch this space…and our video blog for the latest sightings and updates.

Basking Sharks, Minke Whales and Harbour Porpoises…

In spite of the unsettled weather this past few days the preceeding two weeks had us running some lovely wildlife tours out of Baltimore Harbour. The facilities at Baltimore providing our guests with additional comforts during these early season tours…followed by stops for tea at North Harbour on Cape Clear.

With numbers of Manx Shearwaters increasing daily and Gannets feeding inshore we have recorded Basking Sharks off Rabbit Island (following earlier sightings off Baltimore), Minke Whales in their traditional haunts along the eastern and southern shores of Sherkin island and Harbour Porpoise activity in both the Gascanane Sound and off Kedge Island east of Baltimore Harbour. We suspected a feeding Minke Whale east of Rabbit Island two days ago but due to rough seas were unable to confirm.

On one glorious occasion a colleague of mine sailing along Sherkin’s eastern shore encountered a breaching Minke Whale…after the initial shock as this animal launched itself out of the water close to his boat the crew all enjoyed the spectacle – one of the most spectacular to occur along this part of the southern Irish coast and one that we have had the priviledge to witness on many occasions both from the boat and during land based whale watches.

For our early visitors the bonus of sunshine and the beautiful islands of Roaringwater Bay with Choughs wheeling above North Harbour on Cape Clear Island and Gannets diving close into Calf Island West provides a memerable backdrop for early season tours off West Cork.

ENDS

Bottlenose Dolphins off West Cork…

A spectacular display of aerobatics by four Bottlenose Dolphins last evening through Rabbit Isdland sound had us enthralled for over 30 minutes. Moving slowly down the sound they moved close into Squince Harbour before rounding Myross Point and heading off down Big Sound.

Spyhopping, tail slapping and multiple jumps amongst the repetoir of aerobatics…lovely, quite lovely…

West Cork at it absolute best…

ENDS

Nice sightings during early expeditions out of Baltimore…

During the beautiful spring weather we have been having since early April, when we put the boat back in the water, we have had some lovely wildlife watching expeditions “out west”…

Running out of Baltimore Harbour at the moment we have found our visitors taking full advantage of the lovely warm weather and enjoying a variety of wildlife encounters from The Kedges to Brow Head and Castlepoint. Voyager’s deck have been buzzing with anticipation of the next key marine mammal sighting off west Cork.

First Basking Shark encounters off west Cork in Rabbit Island sound two weeks ago
(11th April) with some spectacular Basking Shark encounters east of Sherkin Island during the past week. Bird activity, particularly Gannets, Razorbills, Guillemots, Fulmars, Cormorants and Shags with the first phallanx of Swallows putting in an appearance two weeks ago surprisingly far out to sea off Cape Clear. Beautiful Great Northern Diver activity at the head of the Ilen River Estuary round behind Quarantine Island and both Common and Atlantic Grey Seals off Toormore Rocks and behind Ringarogy. West Cork in the spring is a delight to behold! Our many visitors these past three weeks have been marvelling at the Black Guillemot breeding activity. Flying fast and low over the sea these pretty little birds with their irridescent black breeding plumage and white wing bars entertain us for hours. No sign, where we have been, of any Manx Shearwaters…any day I’d say!

Porpoise feeding activity west of the Calf Islands amid diving Gannets and Cormorants with the first west Cork Minke Whale sightings suspected off The Brow Head a week ago. Rather large swell and poor visibilty saw an animal rise once 100 metres away with a dorsal fin and back that looked just like a Humpback Whale! No further sightings unfortunately so we were unable to confirm species 100%. No blows visible so we suspect Minke Whale but memories of our first west Cork Humpback Whale sightings by WWWC off The Toe Head and Sherkin Island last year got us very excited…it does not take much!

Exciting developments with Whale Watch West Cork these past few months. Our new and comprehensive Code of Conduct is a year old today and has been received extremely well in the press and most importantly by our very well informed visitors who demand a high level of professionalism during marine wildlife encounters. We also believe that our methodology results in less potential for stress among those animals we encounter. Writing in her new book Ecoescape Ireland the Irish travel writer Catherine Mack describes us in the following terms “….Nic’s expertise has led him to draw up a Code of Conduct for whale watching to encourage best practice in conservation and education in the whale watching business. Let’s hope all other operators follow suit….”. Our Code of Conduct is the first of it’s kind in Ireland and we hope to incorporate it into an accreditation scheme for marine tour operators. Whale Watch West Cork have been closely involved these past few months in initiatives to develop marine tourism in the southwest and Nic brings his lifelong committment to sustainable development to these initiatives. Nic acclaimed regular newspaper column in The Southern Star on marine conservation matters and the environment today continues to be popular as it enters it’s second year of publication and Nic was asked to provide a comment on the Courtmacsherry Fin Whale stranding which was published in the national newspaper The Examiner in January.

Ann Donnelly of O’Mahony Donnelly who manages our website has included major upgrades to our website this spring make it easier to follow Whale Watch West Cork online through our regular BLOG, our

VIDEO DIARY
http://www.youtube.com/user/WhaleWatchWestCork

FACEBOOK
http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1275382777

TWITTER
http://twitter.com/nicatwhale

FLICKR
http://www.flickr.com/photos/36309596@N04/

All our fully verified sightings will be placed on our Blog regularly which will provide a link through to the Sea Watch Foundation to whom we supply all our sightings as part of their extensie UK and Ireland cetacean sightings research database. Dr Peter Evans, Director of The Seawatch Foundation has been collecting data on sightings in the UK and Ireland for many years as part of his organisation’s committment to quality cetacean research designed to enhance the conservation status of marine mammals in the coastal waters of Ireland and UK.

Lastly. Whale Watch West Cork and Nic featured on Duncan Stewart’s acclaimed Eco Eye programme on RTE 1 in February, talking about the whales and dolphins of west Cork and their conservation status. We had a lot of fun during filming when Duncan was down in west Cork and a number of spin off projects are under review at this time…watch this space for further information.

ENDS