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The Amazing Song of the Humpback Whales

19th September 2017
A Humpback Whale breaching in Irish waters A Humpback Whale breaching in Irish waters Photo: Padraic Whooley/IWDG

To mariners the sound of the sea is the sound of life and this week I heard some of the most amazing sounds ever recorded underwater.

‘The song of the Humpback Whale,’amazed me. It is the sound the males use, a complex set of sounds, like melodies, underwater to attract females as mates.

I was working on the preparation of the new edition of my radio maritime programme, THIS ISLAND NATION, when I listened to these sounds after hearing the Head of Science at the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, Dr.Simon Berrow, tell me from the organisation’s headquarters at Kilkee In County Clare, that the whale season is about to open on Irish waters, the whale-watching time of the year is here.

It is amazing to realise that in recent years Ireland has become a location for whales, perhaps showing how life in and on the oceans has changed. The sound of the Humpbacks, once heard, won’t be forgotten.

It’s only one of the maritime changes I have had occasion to report in the past week. Another links Kilkenny, the ‘Marble City’ but not a maritime one, from which a couple made a major lifestyle change, deciding to go from there to South Kerry to grow mussels. They now live in Kilmackillogue in South Kerry.

Several years ago I reported a story there investigating the abandonment of several tugs which were blocking the harbour. Those tugs have since been removed and the lovely little harbour in Kenmare Bay has become one of the biggest production areas of rope-grown mussels which are sold throughout Ireland and exported to France.

Those are just two of the stories which you can hear on my Podcast below this week.

Tom MacSweeney

About The Author

Tom MacSweeney

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Tom MacSweeney writes a weekly column for He also presents the maritime radio programme This Island Nation on community radio stations around Ireland.

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