The Beluga whale — a species mainly found in the Arctic Circle — has been recorded in Irish territorial waters as part of a groundbreaking three-year research project into our offshore habitats for marine wildlife.
On Friday (23 November) the ObSERVE Programme team announced the findings of its aerial and acoustic projects, led respectively by UCC and GMIT and which survived larked areas of the Irish and Celtic seas as well as the Atlantic Margin.
Besides the begula, the researchers detected endangered blue whales underwater up to 200km from their survey position, noting strong seasonal patterns in their sounds.
The most abundant baleen whale species is the minke whale, whose numbers in Irish waters reach some 12,000 in summer months and 5,000 in winter, including significant sightings of calves.
Fin whales were also recorded throughout the year, suggesting the continental slope and adjacent deep waters are an important area for this species.
Numbers of deep-water beaked whales — recently the subject of concern over mass strandings in Ireland and Scotland — were also estimated to reach some 4,000 in winter months.
In addition the ObSERVE Programme studied distribution and behaviour of dolphin species, as well as the half a million seabirds of the Atlantic Margin — which included sightings of white-tailed tropicbirds normally found much further south.
The news comes just days after a rare spotting of killer whales in pair off the coast of Co Dublin — and as hundreds of translucent parasitoid phronima have washed up on a beach near Dingle, as TheJournal.ie reports.