The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group’s (IWDG) recently relaunched research vessel the RV Celtic Mist has recorded an impressive 11 cetacean species on its maiden research and training voyage, including the elusive blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus).
Setting sail from Dingle in County Kerry on Monday 03 September, the Celtic Mist headed off on a week long Marine Mammal Observation and Passive Acoustic Monitoring survey. The team surveyed coastal waters around the Blasket Islands where they encountered hundreds of common dolphins, mike whales and a humpback whale, before heading for deeper water off the continental shelf.
On Thursday morning, just off the shelf edge, the team encountered a number of feeding fin whales and, later that day, had the amazing good fortune to see two blue whales surfacing within half a kilometre of the vessel.
Growing up to 33 metres in length and weighing up to 178,000 Kg, the blue whale is the largest animal ever to have lived on earth. The north Atlantic population of this iconic great whale suffered massive persecution at the height of the whaling boom. Estimates suggest that the north Atlantic population may have dropped to as low as 400 animals. Numbers are thought to be recovering slowly, but they are still a rare sight. with the IWDG estimating that perhaps 30-50 individuals pass through Irish waters each year based on acoustic data.
For more information on the RV Celtic mist, her sailing schedule and the opportunity to sail on her, please the the dedicated RV Celtic Mist website.