On a trip with West Cork based whale watching operator Cork Whale Watch last week, drone pilot and Ocean Research & Conservation Ireland (ORCIreland) Observer Greg Coleman captured some astonishing aerial footage of a gigantic Fin Whale lunge feeding through bait balls created by Short-beaked Common Dolphins (see the ORCIreland YouTube clip below).
World-class marine wildlife off Ireland’s south coast
This is by no means an uncommon event off the Irish south coast — but the aerial view gives a real sense of perspective and an appreciation of just how big these ocean giants are. The Common Dolphins, which are surfacing ahead of the whale in this sequence, reach about 2m in length.
Here’s what Drone pilot Greg Coleman had to say on Instagram:
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An absolutely breathtaking experience being lucky enough to film these colossal creatures from above 🐋 #finwhales feeding while #dolphins 🐬 gather the fish 🐟 #corkwhalewatch #whalewatching #wildatlanticway 🇮🇪 #ireland🍀 #shotondji #droneoftheday #djimavicpro @thedronebooth
Fin Whales visit Ireland’s south coast every year from mid-June/early-July (sometimes with a few early arrivals in April/May) through to January/February… and we encounter them regularly with guests on our Ireland’s Wildlife Tours. Other large whales we see off the coast of West Cork every year include Humpback Whales, which start to turn up in April through to late December/early January, and Minke Whales, which arrive as early as March and stay through to November/December. Short-beaked Common Dolphins and Harbour Porpoise are residents off the coast here year-round.
Apart from a very brief period in the depths of winter, as long as the weather is suitable, the Irish south coast offers truly world-class whale and dolphin watching opportunities, with the possibility of encountering 5 different cetacean species on a single trip. It’s just one of the reasons we’ve dubbed this coastline Europe’s Undiscovered Wildlife Frontier, and with footage like this, it’s easy to see why.
If you’d like to look for whales and dolphins off Ireland’s south coast (or anywhere else, for that matter) check out our feature article on how to watch whales and dolphins for our top tips on finding whales and dolphins from shore and out on the water.
If you’re planning your next wildlife trip, but have never considered Ireland as a wildlife destination… perhaps it’s time to think again?