A humpback whale nicknamed “Boomerang” for his repeated returns to the Cork coastline may have found a mate.
Andrea Malcolm, of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) south of Ardmore, Co Waterford, has recorded several “lovely close encounters” of the two whales.
Boomerang was last seen October 22, 2014, in the same area he was photographed last week. The humpback whale has been a seasonal visitor to the Irish coastline since 2001, reports the Irish Times.
“It marks the 10th year that he has actually been observed here, though he could have been coming every season for the past 14,” said Malcolm.
Swimming with HBIRL3, which is Boomerang’s formal code, was a second humpback, HBIRL6. The humpback whales are identified by the unique pattern and shape of their tail fluke.
“She’s female. She was breaching repeatedly, and has been seen here before when she was filmed for the RTÉ 'Living the Wildlife' series in 2008,” Malcolm said.
“She has also been seen with a juvenile in Kerry waters, and could very well be Boomerang’s mate,” he said.
Malcolm said this year has seen an influx of humpbacks to the Kerry coastline, indicating how important Irish waters are to some of the world’s largest mammals. The whales migrate between summer feeding and winter mating grounds.
He said that Boomerang’s large “blow” – spray from its blowhole – is so big that the humpback has been mistaken for a fin whale in the past.
“We’ve no idea of his age, but he is a big animal..and he likes it here,” he said.
In September, three pods of fin whales and over 100 dolphins were seen off the coast near Youghal in Co Cork.
Amateur photographer John Burke, 44, from Killenaule in Co Tipperary, caught the dolphins and whales frolicking together in the sea, off the south coast of Ireland.
He told the Irish Mirror: “We had never seen anything like it before, it was unbelievable.
“The dolphins were feeding with them and it looked like they were working together.
“The dolphins were all around our boat because they like to ride the waves just for a bit of fun.”
Read more: Record numbers of whales flock to Ireland’s shores for the fish (VIDEOS)