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Humpback Whales and Basking Shark arrive early to Dingle Bay

April 15th, 2016   Humpbacl whales and basking shark in Dingle Bay, Co. Kerry, Ireland SW

Our 2016 dolphin and whale watching season has got off to a great start with the very early arrival to Dingle Bay and the Blasket Islands of both humpback whales (3 individuals) and basking shark (numerous).

humpback whale south of Great Blasket Island

Humpback whale and 'blow' off the Great Blasket Island, 17.04.2016

The start of the dolphin and whale watching season off the West Kerry coast, Dingle Bay, Ireland SW is usually a very productive time of year with the Spring blooms of plankton and rising shoals of sand eels drawing the Minke whales and large schools of common dolphins back to our shores, usually accompanied by basking shark, which appear to have arrived early this year with sea water temperature still around 10 degrees Celcius and hopefully they will stay with us for the next 4 / 5 weeks or so until sometime in mid/late May when they usually tend to follow the plankton blooms further north into higher latitudes as the waters warm. They are probably one of the more spectacular sightings in our marine sightings catalogue, especially as they often tend to swim close to the dolphin and whale  watching boat "Blasket Princess" and at this stage we tend to regard them as honorary cetaceans, even though of course they are the second biggest cartilaginous fish in the world. The sun fish- Mora mora - is the biggest bony fish and the whale shark is the biggest cartilaginous fish.

But what a surprise to see a humpback whale on our fourth trip [April 17th, 2016] of the year in Dingle Bay!

The first sighting of the year was off Bray Head, Valentia island, Co. Kerry at the start of April closely followed by sightings in Dingle Bay by land based telescopic observation from Slea Head. These sightings have since been verified by boat based sightings of at least 3 individuals and photo identification shots of the underside of the tail fluke while the animal is tail fluking and diving. The variated colouration on the underside of the fluke is unique to each individual, like human fingerprinting. It now appears, further to more interrogation and interpretation of the data with the available photo identification data bank of Humpback Whales of the North East Atlantic that these 3 individuals may include two newcomers and one returning individual, possibly HBIRL 19.

This is a fantastic start to Blasket Islands EcoMarineTours dolphin and whale watching season and we urge anyone wanting to see basking shark in particular to join us on one of our tours over the next 4 / 5 weeks until about mid / late May for a good chance [nothing Guaranteed!] to see some of our more interesting megafauna!

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