Tuesday 22 October 2019

Whale meet again: Humpbacks return to our shores almost 20 years to the day

Constant companions: The two whales were the first entered into the Irish catalogue in 1999
Constant companions: The two whales were the first entered into the Irish catalogue in 1999

Pat Flynn

Two humpback whales have returned to Irish waters - almost 20 years to the day from when they were first filmed here.

The pair were among whales encountered by members of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) who set sail west of Co Kerry to record humpbacks singing in Irish waters as part of WhaleTrack Ireland.

The team of Simon Berrow and Frances Bermingham set out with Nick Massett to deploy a Soundtrap recording device where, three days earlier, Nick had recorded up to five whales south-west of Inishvickillane.

As he had seen two blows west of Inishtooskert, the team decided to head there first.

The group encountered four humpback whales, among them the first two whales entered into the IWDG Irish Humpback Whale Catalogue when they were photographed 20 years ago in September 1999.

Images of the whales were sent to IWDG sightings officer Pádraig Whooley, who contacted Eoin O'Mahony, who videoed the whales from a gas field supply ship in 1999.

Mr O'Mahony said: "I was surprised to hear that the two humpback whales I had filmed 20 years ago, nearly to the day, had been positively identified off west Kerry.

"To think that they could have stayed together for 20 years in treacherous waters with busy shipping lanes, sonar blasting and plastic pollution is nothing short of remarkable.

"It must be the peaceful southern coast and an abundance of food that attracts them."

Irish Independent

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