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Irish Whale Watch Season 2017 County Kerry Whale Watching Boat Tours 2017 Sighting Report 1st Trip

Irish Whale Watch Season 2017 County Kerry Whale Watching Boat Tours Sightings Report 2017 1st Trip

We began our season this year on April 6th, 2017 as there was high Atlantic sea swell before then. As usual our eco marine boat tours in April and May prove to be very productive with lots of Spring plankton in the water, sand eels ( lance fish) rising to the surface to feed, and a frenzy of predatory marine wildlife in turn feeding on them including (20) Minke whales, (circa 175) common dolphins and lots of seabirds including shags, fulmers, auks - puffins, common and black guillemots, razorbills - and kittiwakes. Manx shearwaters are dispersed all over Dingle Bay, alternating black and white as they shear over the waves.

 

Minke Whales, Common Dolphins, Harbour Porpoises, Puffins, Manx Shearwaters, Kittiwakes, Sandwich Terns....

Our sightings log for the first day of the season 06.04.2017 was:
Approx. 20 Minke whales - literally they kept popping up so often we lost count - one of our smallest whales at approx. 10 metres adult size.
About 10 harbour porpoises - smaller than the common dolphin (2.5 metres) at less than 2 metres adult size, very shy and only observed in really calm weather and sea conditions (sea state 1-2).
Maybe the fact that the name for them in Irish is "muc mara" - sea pig- and the Blasket islanders regularly ate them as a delicacy has made them so shy hereabouts.
About 200 common dolphins were dispersed throughout Dingle Bay feeding on the plentiful shoals of sand eels, including many juveniles and very young. We named one individual "The Joker" as he likes to do standing back flips and belly flops.
The variety of avian diversity was astonishing with large rafts of shags with their black crested breeding plumes, large numbers of guillemots, razor bills and the newly-arrived puffins from mid-Atlantic and the east coast of Canada, some kittiwakes, fulmers nesting two by two on the cliffs and herring gulls nesting on Oileán Buí, Manx shearwaters  everywhere having lately arrived for the breeding season from off the coasts of Brazil and Uruguay and to cap it off as we returned to our mooring in Ventry Harbour at the end of the Afternoon Eco Marine Tour two sandwich terns were perched on our mooring buoy. Perfect!
All of this wonderful variety of marine wildlife is dependent on a plentiful supply of sand eels, and later in the season dependent on a plentiful supply of sprat to sustain it and it is our responsibility to protect and conserve these forage fish species if we want this wonderful spectacle of nature to continue year on year.

Native Red Deer on Inishvickillaun; Grey Seals on Trá Bán, Great Blasket island

An interesting spectacle was a view from the tour boat "Blasket Princess" of some of the native red deer stags on top of the cliffs on Inishvickillaun, one of the outer Blasket islands. This is probably now the purest stock in the country as there is some evidence that the red deer in Killarney National Park may be interbreeding with some of the Sitka deer..
First sight on the cliff tops was of a large stag with a rack of antlers to match - their age can be ascertained by counting the antlers.Then we were puzzled when we saw some more large stag like deer on the cliff tops but withour antlers until we examined some of our photos and the new buds of the new season antler growth could plainly be seen, whereas the first stag we saw had not begun to shed his antlers yet. I wonder will he be at a disadvantage when the rutting season starts in October with daily contests of prowess to see who gets access to the hinds?
Meanwhile on the Trá Bán on the Great Blasket Island up to a thousand grey seals are currently hauled out while they go through the moult stage of their life cycle.
Very interesting times on the waters and the wild on and around the Blasket islands.


Coming Soon.......... Basking Shark Approaching Kerry Coast..........

With the surface sea water temperature currently at about 10.5 degrees Celcius it is still a little cold for basking shark to come to the surface feeding on their favourite type of plankton but with calm mild weather forecast for the coming week it should not take long for the surface sea water temperature to reach about 12 degrees Celcius which is the optimum temperature for the type of plankton bloom on which they feed.
Come along and join the spectacle as these mega fauna swim alongside our boat with open 6 foot wide mouth siphoning the equivalent of an Olympic sized swimmimg pool through their mouths daily which they sieve for plankton, which is the reason why thier livers are about one third their body weight and they were formerly hunted almost to extinction for their liver oil which could consist of up to 40 barrels.
Nowadays they are hunted for their fins which are an expensive delicacy on the Chinese market as shark fin soup.

Lets hope these gentle giants of the deep go their way safely past our shores, reminding us of the start of Summer and the approach of fine weather.

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