THE first whales of the season have been spotted off the east coast, lured by an enormous herring shoal offering rich pickings.
Two humpbacks, five fin whales and a 'superpod' of dolphins have been identified off the Hook Peninsula in Wexford by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group.
National Parks and Wildlife Service ranger Tony Murray said these were the first of the whale-watching season and can be spotted chasing fish some 5km offshore.
"There is a huge herring haul going on in the south east at the moment, with the whales here to feed on the herring," he said.
"We have identified birds from Denmark, Poland, Iceland, Norway, Britain Holland and Ireland. The herring haul is attracting in about 20,000 gulls for feeding, so this is also an amazing opportunity for birdwatchers."
Manager of Hook Head lighthouse, Anne Waters, said it was the third year in a row that humpbacks and fin whales were off the Hook Peninsula for a prolonged period of time.
"We just opened a new viewing gantry at the lighthouse and it's the perfect spot to observe the sea wildlife with binoculars," she said.
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