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Big Rebound for Humpback Whales in British Waters Says New Marine Wildlife Review

4th January 2022
Humpback whales have been spotted 75 times off the coast of Britain since 2019
Humpback whales have been spotted 75 times off the coast of Britain since 2019 Credit: Chelsea Bradley

A new review of marine wildlife in British waters reveals that once-rarely seen humpback whales have rebounded in recent years.

Marine Industry News reports on the 2021 Marine Review from The Wildlife Trusts which notes that humpback whale numbers are recovering since bans on commercial hunting, with more than 75 sightings around Britain since 2019.

Other sightings of note in the last 12 months include two orcas seen off Penzance in Cornwall — the most southerly sighing in half a century — and a 10-strong pod of white-beaked dolphins spitted off Essex for the first time in over two decades.

Elsewhere, puffins have returned to the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea after an absence of 30 years following a vermin control programme.

Wally the Arctic walrus’ adventures around the UK before his trail of destruction along Ireland’s South Coast made for some excitement last summer.

And the world’s largest skate, a juvenile flapper skate, was recorded in Northern Ireland as part of Ulster Wildlife’s Sea Deep programme — whose project officer Ronald Surgenor was awarded a marine conversation award in late 2020.

But concerns remain regarding a series of cetacean and marine mammal strandings around Britain’s coasts, with noise from wind farms and unsustainable fishing practices put under the spotlight.

The Wildlife Trusts website has more on the review HERE.

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!

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