16 November 2018

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


  1. Alan Burns says:

    Using my binoculars this afternoon (3.30 pm) I was watching a stetch of water between Crookhaven Harbour and just west of The Fasnet Rock and about 3 – 4 miles out I saw a very dark long back of a whale with a small black dorsel fin which seemed to be located quite far back on its body. Its was swimming in an easterly direction. About 2/3 mins later I saw another fin which was very similar. It seemed to be a 2nd whale. I think this because it appeared in a very similar position and I would have expected the whale to have moved alot further east and not to be in the same place.
    I have a basic whale/ dolphin book and the whale reminded most of fin whale. Long, black and small dorsal.
    Just wondering if anyone else saw what I saw and has more infromation and detail

  2. Hi Alan. Thank you so much for posting this. They were almost certainly Minke Whales as each year the early sightings are made in this area. These are the smallest of the balleen whales that come into Irish waters and the larger ones can reach up to around 30ft long. They are frequently seen in pairs or threes but if you don’t see them all come up together then it is difficult to know exact numbers. All the best. Nic. WWWC

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