Puffins and Humpback Whales in Dingle Bay

a humpback in west kerry photo by nick massett


Abundant Sightings of Puffins, Humpback & Minke Whales, Dolphins, Basking Shark in Dingle Bay, Kerry, Ireland S.W.

The Spring marine wildlife watching season has got off to a great start for Blasket Islands Eco Marine Tours despite the unseasonable cold weather and cold northerly winds and air and sea water temperatures both around 10 degrees Celsius.
Despite this there is evidence of an early Spring plankton bloom and abundant well distributed shoals of sand eels (actually lance fish not eels despite their habit of burrowing in the sandy seabed) rising to the surface layer of water to feed on the plankton. This in turn leads to schools of common dolphins preying on this oil rich food source and also the return of Minke whales to our waters, and most surprising of all the presence of humpback whales in the outer parts of Dingle Bay between the Blasket Islands and the Skelligs, and even the presence of a juvenile humpback who spent almost 10 days foraging off the oil rich sand eel shoals, and clearly visible from Slea Head on the mainland.

Puffins, Puffins, Puffins.........Puffins.

Yes, puffins have arrived around the outer Blasket islands from early on in the season. On our first trip of 2016 at the end of March we easily saw about one thousand puffins who seemed to have just newly arrived all the way from the east coast of Canada and the mid Atlantic where they spent the winter months feeding on capelin shoals before returning to the Blaskets and the Skelligs in Dingle Bay for the 2016 breeding season.
If you want to see puffins you will have to take either the Afternoon Eco Marine Tour or the All Day Tour as puffins only breed on the outer Blasket islands where there is less maritime traffic and where there is ideal nesting habitat (burrows in sandy pockets on cliff faces)  and (at the moment) predator free apart from their perennial enemy the Great Black Backed Gull.
You have the added bonus on these trips of getting a view of Cathedral Rocks on Inish na Bró which look like a vast Gothic Cathedral hewn out of the rock and sculpted by the natural forces of wind, sea and storm.

Basking Shark

Basking shark made a brief appearance this year, very early, at the start / mid April when sea water temperatures were approaching 10 degrees Celsius and there was an initial early Spring plankton bloom for them to feed on. Since then we had very cold northerly wind and a cold start to Spring and on our last day out on May 1st, the sea water temperature was still hovering below 9.5 degrees Celsius which is still a little cold for their favourite type of plankton for which they come to the surface this time of year. They are fish, not mammals like cetaceans, and do not need to come to the surface to breathe, but this plankton bloom gives us a unique opportunity to view these Behemoths of the Deep.
We expect to see good numbers of basking shark again when the sea water warms a little, at least approaching 11 to 12 degrees Celsius.
This will give an opportunity for people to have a good chance to see basking shark up close and personal on one of our tours from mid May to mid June when we expect suitable sea water temperatures and plankton distribution for their annual foraging and mating visit. It is even possible that their mating instinct is triggered by feasting on this mineral rich and trace element rich harvest getting them in prime condition for the success of their mating ritual and subsequent successful reproduction.
We regularly see up to two or three quite large male sharks up to 10 metres in length swim alongside a female and each other, almost indistinct from each other in their rasping closeness, and the combination of dorsal fins and tail fins look like an undulating Sea Monster or Sea Dragon......

So, book a Tour on our homepage or click on "Book Tour" above and come to West Kerry and join us for a boat trip on M.V. "Blasket Princess" where there be a real chance to see Sea Dragons - for sure!

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Ventry / Ceann Trá
Dingle Peninsula, Co. Kerry

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