2019 Whale Watch Season Ireland Ventry harbour Dingle Bay Kerry
Puffin on the Blaskets
Basking Shark in Dingle Bay
Minke Whales, Common Dolphins, Bottlenose Dolphins, Seals, Puffins, Basking Shark...................
The team at Blasket Islands Eco Marine Tours are busy getting the boats ready for the start of the 2019 Irish Whale Watch Season on April 1st.
So far, the signs are looking promising with some Minke Whales already spotted in Dingle Bay and the occasional school of Common Dolphins accompanied by diving Gannets on the shoaling forage fish below. There are still over 1,000 Grey Seals hauled up on the White Strand - An Trá Bán - on the Great Blasket Island after their winter sojourn there and Puffins and Manx Shearwaters have arrived on the outer Blasket Islands of Inishvickillaun and Inish na Bró from the coasts of Canada and South America [Brazil and Uruguay] respectively. The surface sea water temperature is now hovering around 10 degrees Celsius and as it warms up and the Spring plankton blooms start we expect our first Basking Shark Sighting of 2019 shortly.....................[Last year we spotted our first basking shark of the season on 31st March, 2018]
Ventry Harbour - Ceann Trá - Departure Point for Blasket Islands Eco Marine Tours
Last week, on March 14th, we had a school of around thirty Bottlenose Dolphins in Ventry Harbour as if to tell us to hurry up with our marine tours preparations for 2019! They are a recurring feature of our summer sightings, often coming into Ventry Harbour where our two marine tour boats M.V. "Blasket Princess" and M.V. "An Blascaod Mór" are moored and from where our trips depart. Ventry village - Ceann Trá -is situated 4 miles west of Dingle town on the Slea Head drive, road R559 and directly on the Wild Atlantic Way on the road west to Slea Head, West Kerry. Apart from being the departure point for Blasket Islands Eco Marine Tours, it is a destination in itself with its crescent shaped mile long beach and clean safe swimming water and Long's deli / shop / P.O.; Quinn's pub / restaurant; Pennny's pottery / café; Long's horse riding stables and also this is the location of the mythological "Cath Fionn Trá" where Fionn Mc Cumhaill fought Dáire Donn, the "King of the World" for a year and a day on Ventry Beach. Definitely a destination not to be missed!.
First Arrival of Humpback Whales to Irish Waters 2019 Whale Watch Season
So many of our visitors want to see humpback whales and puffins and basking shark but there is a season for everything in wildlife. Yes, the puffins are here now on the outer Blasket Islands until they migrate back again towards the east coast of Canada and the North West Atlantic towards the end of July.
Basking shark are here for a short 5 / 6 week period usually in April and May (apart from some stragglers in June) when the surface sea water temperature is about 12 degrees Celsius when they come to the surface to feed on the Spring plankton blooms. Naturally, being fish, not mammals like cetaceans (dolphins, whales and porpoises), they do not need to come to the surface to breath otherwise and that is the reason why they are only seen this time of year. This surface feeding period also seems to be associated with some mating behaviour with male sharks swimming closely alongside a leading female shark and rubbing their flanks together.
Humpback whales migrate past the outer Blasket Islands during the Summer period on their way from the rich feeding grounds off Norway and Iceland towards the breeding grounds near the Cape Verde Islands, West Africa and / or the Silver Banks, situated 80 miles north of the Dominican Republic, West Indies in the Caribbean.
They use their stay here to build up their fat reserves before the long period of up to two months in the breeding period when they will scarcely eat at all.
Their presence here off the coast of West Kerry and West Cork depends on the presence and abundance of forage fish, mainly consisting of sand eels and sprats, anchovies and various whitebait. For 2018 the first appearance of humpback whales off the Irish coast was on March 25th, 2018 off Dursey Island, West Cork and they mainly went south-about then and visited West Kerry waters later in the season. But every year is different, depending on where they arrive first and where the most abundant forage fish stocks (if any) are at that time. We can expect them in West Kerry waters anytime from April right to the end of September which is perfect for our whale watching tours!
Please be aware that we cannot guarantee sightings of humpback whales on every one of our trips ..... or dolphins or basking shark.... as the animals are free (thankfully) and the ocean is big (!) and also sometimes we are restricted by unsuitable weather and sea conditions to go to the optimum viewing areas north and west of the Blasket Islands where we know there may be whales....
But our skipper and crew always do their best to bring you the best marine wildlife watching boat tour on the day, taking into account the prevailing weather and ocean conditions and also the various expected marine wildlife distribution on the day based on their knowledge and experience and from their associated network of fellow land based and sea based spotters.
So book a tour with www.marinetours.ie for your chance to view some of the above very interesting and very varied marine wildlife around the Blasket Islands and Dingle Bay, County Kerry, Ireland S.W.
Log of Whale Watching Tour Boat M.V."Blasket Princess" 24.03.2019
Captain Whales Galore