As if Ireland didn’t have enough to offer with its beautiful green countryside, surfing hotspots, and plenty of great places for tourists to indulge in food, drink and fun, it now also caters to whale-watching fanatics.
Ireland is believed to have become something of a whale-watcher’s paradise as some of the world’s biggest mammals chase a rich variety of fish to the waters around our coast.
Living off Irish coasts for up to ten months of the year, various types of whale from minke to fin and humpback are frequently seen swimming through Irish waters.
Many sea creatures rush to Ireland’s shoreline in the spring and summertime and this year, seven fin whales were identified just off of Co. Cork. The seven majestic creatures were seen near Old Head of Kinsale, taking in the Wild Atlantic Way along the Cork coastline from a different angle.
The school of the second largest creatures on earth were spotted from the sky as they engaged in a bit of tourism of their own. Tomás Kelly, a helicopter crewman with Bond Air Services, spotted the whales, which measure twice as long as a double-decker bus, from 1000ft above the Kinsale gas fields.
Irish water is considered an important international feeding ground for whales with thanks to its rich stocks of spawning herring and sprats. Not only are whales now swimming to Ireland but they are spending longer periods of time around the country.
Padraig Whooley, the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group officer, has said that sightings of the mammals are becoming more and more regular, especially off the Cork and Kerry coastlines, stretching from the early arrivals in May to the last ones to leave, braving the cold Irish waters as late as February.
“They are the second largest creatures on the planet. It’s spectacular,” the sightings officer told the Irish Examiner.
“If you go down to west Cork or west Kerry and see a fin whale or a humpback whale for some people it is life changing.
“When the feeding is right we have counted 30, 40, or sometimes more fin whales in an area. It does look like Irish waters do represent an important international feeding ground for these whales and it’s not just a place they come and spend a couple of days in.”
This long period of time is a cause for some jealousy from other countries. Although South Africa boasts great sites for whale-watching and higher activity than Irish waters, the staying period of the whales only lasts for about four and a half months where as Ireland can attract whale-watching tourists for ten months of the year.
“And the photo identification is telling us the same individuals are returning year after year,” added Whooley.
The Irish Examiner has reported that although the are about 100 official sightings of whales recorded in Ireland each year, the official figure could quite possibly be a lot higher.
“You can watch fin whales off the Irish south coast for about nine or 10 months of the year,” Whooley said.
“February to March are the only tricky months. Real professional commercial whale-watching boats are taking people out for four- or five-hour trips and finding whales. It’s really reaching an international audience.”
H/T: The Irish Examiner
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