12 November 2018

Cetacean sightings superb off West Cork…

Sightings off West Cork these past 10 days have been nothing short of superb with a cross section of species from Fin Whales to Minke Whales, Common Dolphins to Harbour Porpoises, a Basking Shark and a suspected Striped Dolphin amongst a small group of Common Dolphins.

From the Seven Heads to The Mizen Head we have been running tours every day during the prolonged fine weather spell we have been enjoying. Highlights have included:

Our first confirmed inshore sightings of Fin Whales. Three animals around five miles south of The Stag Rocks. Showing no evidence of feeding these greyhounds of the sea were travelling at some speed with their huge columnar blows visible long after our first encounter as they travelled east.

Some lovely Minke Whale activity southwest of The Mizen Head. Up to three animals feeding amidst Gannets, Manx Shearwaters, Kittiwakes and assorted gulls. One very large animal got our hearts pumping as we, for one fleeting moment, thought we had a Fin Whale amongst the action. With The Sheep’s Head and Beara Peninsular as a backdrop these have been some of the more memorable Minke Whales sightings so far this year.

We continue to have some stunning encounters with Harbour Porpoises. These diminutive toothed whales, considered shy and retiring, have enchanted our visitors by swimming around the boat and creating much bird activity above boistrous feeding bouts.

Several encounters with Common Dolphins from Cape Clear to The Galley Head in varying group sizes. Some with very young animals in the group, others mainly adults and sub adults. Around 120 animals encountered in Baltimore Bay recently with 45/50 animals in one discrete group in Rosscarbery Bay only yesterday and generating much interest from a large flock of Gannets.

Perhaps the most memorable encounter was with a lone Basking Shark in Rosscarbery Bay this week. This is the latest I have ever encountered a Basking Shark in the waters off West Cork. Usually associated with earlier months when they rise to the surface while feeding on Phyto and Zooplankton high in the water column this enigmatic denizon of the deep caused much interest cruising amongst a group of Harbour Porpoises.


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