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Whales Join Fungi Off Irish Coast

 

Updated : Jul 7, 2009

There have been four sightings of killer, or Orca, whales off the Irish coast in the last 10 days, that is just two sightings short of our yearly average.

On Sunday, the crew of the Navy’s LE Ciara spotted what looked like a pod of five whales off Erris Head in Co Mayo.

The same whales had been seen last year off the Isle of Skye near Scotland.

Photographs taken by the crew identified two of the killer whales “Floppy Fin” and “Nicola”. They were cross-referenced with photographs taken by whalewatchers in Scotland which were passed on to a database kept by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG).

Floppy Fin was first identified by a Scottish-based whalewatcher 30 years ago and is now aged about 50.

The good weather has made for a record number of sightings this summer of whales, dolphins and porpoises. There were 264 recorded sightings in June and all reports have not been collated yet, against an average of 162 in June over the previous five years, according to the IWDG.

One of the highlights was the spotting of a separate pod of Orca whales off Achill on June 24th.

The previous day a humpback whale was released by fishermen off the Co Wexford coast in a collaborative rescue involving anglers, divers and lifeboat volunteers.

IWDG sightings co-ordinator Pádraig Whooley said the proliferation of sightings was down to human endeavour rather than any natural phenomena, and was not indicative of an increase in population. “You always have to be careful about assuming there are more whales and dolphins around. The numbers are the same, but our ability to see them has improved,” he said.

“What people see in the summer is almost completely determined by how calm the sea is. The whales and dolphins are still out there. Our ability to actually see them diminishes when the seas get rough.”

But he confessed to having “not an idea” as to why there had been so many sightings of killer whales recently.


 

 

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