16 November 2018

Latest Sightings off West Cork

In spite of the recent bouts of unsettled weather we have had some lovely sightings between The Galley Head and Cape Clear over the last few weeks.

The Common Dolphins have moved inshore right on cue at the beginning of August and groups of up to 50 animals have provided us with some stunning viewing from the boat. Groups that have included some very young animals and adolescents which is very heartening to see. Feeding beneath huge clouds of Gannets, with Manx Shearwaters milling about on the surface, Guillemots and assorted Gulls make for a feeding spectacle of “Attenborough” like proportions – and just off West Cork!

Following some of the best Minke Whale watching so far this season only a few weeks ago these enigmatic denizons of the deep have been keeping us guessing. Around two/three animals have been patrolling Roaringwater Bay, the area southeast of Cape Clear and east of Sherkin Island providing good, if only rather fleeting sightings. August has never been considered the best time for Minke Whale watching anyway but we would have expected more activity as Cape Clear, The Brow Head and Roaringwater Bay are traditionally good areas for Minkes.

More unexpected has been the amazing sightings of Harbour Porpoises. The opposite to the boistrous and charismatic Common Dolphin these smallest of Ireland’s whales usually avoid close encounters with boats, people and engines. With engines off and drifting on the tide we had some stunning close encounters with groups of these small cetaceans where they have swum close by and under the boat apparently without regard for our presence, delighted our many customers. On one memorable encounter we came across a mother and tiny calf patrolling the harbour entrance off Baltimore. We stopped immediately and turned off our engines and unexpectedly this pair swum close around the boat within just a few metres. One keen photographer on board took some of the best pictures of Harbour Porpoises I have ever seen!

We have not received any more reports of Humpback Whales in the Irish Sea but a couple of further reports of Fin Whales offshore and off the UK coast take us back to the amazing viewing of these two species we had last autumn. Once the Fin Whales move inshore again, hopefully over the coming weeks, readers of this blog will be the first to hear.

My colleague Rory Jackson has reported more Bottlenose Dolphin activity off Cork Harbour and off The Tuskar Rock during yacht deliveries to and from Dublin. We have had our fair share on Bottlenose activity in and around Baltimore this season with around 14 animals in the harbour some weeks ago and a lone Bottlenose Dolphin encountered within the harbour only a couple of weeks ago. An animal that we have encountered along this coast several times over the past four years…always on it’s own though.

More anon as the season progresses…

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