Whale watching in West Cork is in the news again after this incredible shot made the front page of several national newspapers today.
A humpback breaching off the West Cork Coast (c) Simon Duggan, All Rights Reserved
It is a once-in-a-lifetime moment captured by whale watcher and long time Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) member Simon Duggan. The boat in the background — Jerry Smyth’s “Wave Chieftain” of Aquaventures Dive Centre in Baltimore — offers a real sense of scale… and if you look closely you’ll see that all of the whale watchers on the Wave Chieftain are looking the wrong way!
The whale watching off West Cork at the moment is truly world class. It’s phenomenal to have such a concentration of humpback and fin whales feeding in an area that’s so accessible to whale watchers.
A close encounter with these ocean giants makes it onto a lot of people’s “bucket list” of things to do before you die. It is one of the most humbling and memorable wildlife encounters you’ll ever experience… and right now it’s on our doorstep off the West Cork coast.
For more information check out the report on the aggregation of humpback whales off the Irish south coast on the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group’s website.
With the humpbacks making headlines and grabbing front-page real-estate in the national press it’s easy to assume that this is an unprecedented occurrence. While it is absolutely amazing to have such a concentration of cetaceans in one place, the truth is that exceptional whale watching is nothing new in West Cork.
My first encounter with fin and humpback whales in Ireland was back in 2004, and I’ve had some fantastic whale watching trips over the years since, including this amazing encounter with fin whales last year and a memorable encounter with a brace of humpbacks off West Cork earlier this year.
These large baleen whales spend a significant chunk of time in Irish inshore waters every year, following the large aggregations of herring and sprat on which they feed. Time it right and there’s no doubt that Ireland’s south coast offers some of the best whale watching opportunities anywhere in the world.