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.
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.