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Blue Whales Spotted Off Kerry Coast in Ireland's Third Ever Sighting

12th September 2012
Blue Whales Spotted Off Kerry Coast in Ireland's Third Ever Sighting

#MARINE WILDLIFE - Members of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) encountered the world's largest animals off the southwest coast of Ireland last Thursday.

Two blue whales were witnessed by the team on board the Celtic Mist near the edge of the continental shelf on the Porcupine Blight, west of Dursey Island in Co Kerry.

The marine giants - last recorded in Irish waters back in 2008 - reportedly surfaced within 500 metres of the boat.

Mission co-ordinator Patrick Lyne told The Irish Times that there may even have been three whales in the pod, as three blows of seawater were witnessed in a short space of time.

He also noted that the sighting was very significant as there are estimated to be fewer than 4,000 blue whales in the entire northern hemisphere - their numbers reduced drastically by whaling over the past hundred years.

At an average of 30 metres in lengh and an incredible 180 metric tins in weight, the blue whale is the largest animal to have ever lived on earth.

The Celtic Mist was on its maiden voyage as a research vessel for the IWDG, following its gifting to the group for marine wildlife conservation work by the Haughey family last year, and subsequent major refitting works.

The vessel set sail on Monday 3 Septmeber on a marine mammal observation and passive acoustic monitoring week, carrying a towed hydrophone array for acoustic detections below the surface.

During the weeklong mission the team on board enountered 11 different cetacean species including harbour porpoises, common dolphins, minke whales and a humpback whale.

Link to Blue Whales Spotted During an Air Corps Maritime Patrol

Published in Marine Wildlife
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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Marine Wildlife Around Ireland One of the greatest memories of any day spent boating around the Irish coast is an encounter with marine wildlife.  It's a thrill for young and old to witness seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales right there in their own habitat. As boaters fortunate enough to have experienced it will testify even spotting a distant dorsal fin can be the highlight of any day afloat.  Was that a porpoise? Was it a whale? No matter how brief the glimpse it's a privilege to share the seas with Irish marine wildlife.

Thanks to the location of our beautiful little island, perched in the North Atlantic Ocean there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe.

From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals this page documents the most interesting accounts of marine wildlife around our shores. We're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and youtube clips.

Boaters have a unique perspective and all those who go afloat, from inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing that what they encounter can be of real value to specialist organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) who compile a list of sightings and strandings. The IWDG knowledge base has increased over the past 21 years thanks in part at least to the observations of sailors, anglers, kayakers and boaters.

Thanks to the IWDG work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. Here's the current list: Atlantic white-sided dolphin, beluga whale, blue whale, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, Cuvier's beaked whale, false killer whale, fin whale, Gervais' beaked whale, harbour porpoise, humpback whale, killer whale, minke whale, northern bottlenose whale, northern right whale, pilot whale, pygmy sperm whale, Risso's dolphin, sei whale, Sowerby's beaked whale, sperm whale, striped dolphin, True's beaked whale and white-beaked dolphin.

But as impressive as the species list is the IWDG believe there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you are out on the ocean waves keep a sharp look out!