Wednesday 16 October 2019

Whale spotted off Dublin coast thought to be same animal discovered dead in River Liffey

A fin whale has been found dead (Irish Defence Forces, Air Corps/PA)
A fin whale has been found dead (Irish Defence Forces, Air Corps/PA)
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

THE whale spotted off the coast of Dublin this week is thought to be the same animal discovered dead yesterday in the River Liffey.

Conal O’Flanagan, secretary of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG), said it was first notified on Tuesday of a whale in the area of Dublin Bay.

It later made it’s way up the River Liffey, however this was a sign that it was not well.

"We got a call to say that a whale had been spotted off Red Rock in Sutton on Tuesday.

"Then on Wednesday there was another sighting in the River Liffey near Dublin Port, where no whale should be," Mr O’Flanagan said.

"The fact that it was seen in shallow water off Sutton, the feeling was that it was not a well animal," he said.

"We are assuming that the sightings were of the same whale."

At first they believed it was a minke whale, but it later emerged it was in fact a fin whale – the second largest animal on the planet.

Such whales usually feed in much deeper oceans on fish.

"It was a long way from where it should have been.

"The fin whale is a much more interesting animal, it’s only a bit smaller than a blue whale," he said, adding that while the one spotted dead in the Liffey was young, a fully grown adult can be 25m long.

Exactly what made the Liffey whale sick is unclear, though a number of factors can cause illness in the animals, including pollution or natural causes.

"We don’t know what happened to it. It was spotted near Dublin Port. If it is beached, we may be able to carry out a post mortem and learn more.

"It’s not the first time this has happened, there was a whale carcass discovered in Bray a number of years ago," Mr O’Flanagan said.

Finn whales are extremely large and streamlined with a pointed head, proportionate pectoral fins and tall but curved dorsal fin.

They are uniquely asymmetrically coloured with a white lower right jaw contrasting their black lower left jaw.

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