Monday, 22 July 2013

Week 5 July 8th – 14th

The nice weather we have had lately has seen an increase in the number of sightings. Even though light winds were forecast for most days the local area sea breeze means that there’s almost always some level of ‘chop’.  The week started promisingly on Monday with 8 separate sightings. The highlight of these was the return of the common dolphins. Common dolphins are often seen in this area but had been absent for most of this summer. The first encounter was with about 25 animals on the morning trip. However this number had grown to well over a hundred in the evening. Everywhere we looked around the boat there were dolphins. Some groups approached the boat and were bow riding while others seemed content to remain foraging and ignore the boat.  In addition to the dolphins we also had three sightings of individual minke whales and one group of three that appeared to be feeding in close proximity to each other.  Two sightings of individual harbour porpoises rounded off the day nicely.

Common dolphins (c) Paddy O'Dwyer- IWDG

The dolphins were still present the following day. At first it seemed like there weren’t as many in the bay with only two encounters with small groups of to 10 animals. However shortly after this the dolphins appeared to be everywhere around the bay, they were seen jumping from the water near and far and in every direction. The fine weather makes spotting much easier and this was reflected in the sightings with five separate harbour porpoise sightings during the day and three individual minke whale sightings. Most of the minke sightings were from further away that we usually see them highlight the difference that environmental factors have on whale watching. We also encountered basking sharks twice, each sighting was of an individual animal. It’s great to still be encountering basking sharks this late in the season. Going on past records its unlikely we’ll be seeing them for long more with only a few sightings reported in this area late in the summer in past years.

Basking Shark (c) Paddy O'Dwyer- IWDG

Winds stiffened later in the week resulting in plenty of chop combined with white crests everywhere making it very difficult to clearly identify any cetaceans on the water. A single minke whale was seen on Saturday, it was only spotted as it surfaced right next to the boat! 
Office view (c) Paddy O'Dwyer

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