Whales - Humpback, Fin, Minke, Porpoise and Killer Whales
Yes, there are whales around the Blaskets and in Dingle Bay.
No, they are not there all the time and sometimes they are as hard to find as hens teeth or leprechauns!
The main whales we encounter around the Blaskets are;
Humpback whale and Blasket Princess
Humpback whale fluke
Two Basking Sharks side by side
Two orca off Blasket Islands
humpback whale and dunmore head
two orca off blaskets
The minke whale is our most commonly observed whale. It is a relatively small baleen whale (up to 10m in length) which occurs off the West Kerry shore between March and November. It usually surfaces a few times in a row before it goes on a deep dive lasting from five to ten minutes. Its 'blow' is rarely visible but sometimes, when the animals get close enough to us, we are able to hear it. It breaches (comes clear or partially out of the water) only very occasionally but when it does the distinctive white patches on its pectoral fins make it unmistakable for any other whale.
Humpback whale sightings off the West Kerry coast have been steadily increasing over the last few years, peaking in 2015. During that year around 30 new animals for the Irish Humpback Whale Catalogue (an approximate doubling of known animals in Irish waters) have been recorded in the West Kerry area and we are hoping that the current trend of increased sightings will continue for the 2016 season. So far we've been off to a good start in 2016 with already five animals having been sighted around the Kerry coast so far.
Blasket Islands Eco Marine Tours is helping with the catalogueing and identification of humpback whales in Irish waters by obtaining photo identification shots which we pass on to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group for validation and inclusion in the Group's data base.
Finwhales are the worls's second largest animal and can grow up to about 22 metres in length. They do not frequent our coast very often but we do sometimes encounter them higher out to sea, mainly in late summer and usually together with humpback whales. The fin whale's 'blow' is very tall and straight, as to the humpback's much bushier 'blow'.
In 2010 we spotted two killer whales just a few miles south of Skelligs and they stayed with us for about half an hour. They are always a bonus to see and always spectacular. Other sightings over the years have been off Sybil Head, south of Great Blasket and in Blasket Sound. They usually don’t hang about and are on passage and can be seen at various times of the year.
They grow up to 10 metres in length
At 1.8 metres adult length the harbour Porpoise is our smallest cetacean and smaller than an adult common dolphin. They are quite numerous and the seas surrounding the Blasket Islands are an E.U. Designated marine S.A.C. [Special Area of Conservation] with special reference to Harbour Porpoises. Unlike dolphins, for which they are often mistaken, they are shy and avoid close contact or interaction with boats. Also you really need very calm water to spot them.
So join us on one of our trips and see if you can spot the difference between a porpoise and a dolphin!