Ireland is set to become one of the biggest whale-watching tourism hotpots in the world thanks to the approximate 100 whales which are spotted off Irish waters every year.
The mammals are in fact drawing many visitors from across the globe, planning a vacation to Ireland. Irish waters are thought to be home to fin, minke as well as humpback whales for 10 out of the 12 months of the year, which is in fact longer than most watching seasons in other countries.
In the last week in fact seven fin whales which are thought to measure as long as a double-decker bus powered by the Old Head of Kinsale, swimming towards the popular Cork coastline. This sighting is the first major sighting of these wonderful creatures to our shores.
The Irish Whale and Dolphin office, Padraig Whooley, said that the whales were snapped by helicopter crewman with Bond Air Services, Tomas Kelly from an estimated 1,000 ft up over Kinsale.
“They are the second largest creatures on the planet. It’s spectacular,” said the sightings officer.
“If you go down to west Cork or west Kerry and see a fin whale or a humpback whale for some people it is life changing.
“Every year we are seeing them in new areas. We have them here from basically late May and June all the way through to the following January and February.” Around 100 of the mammals tend to be sighted off Irish waters every year but it is thought the true numbers are much higher.
“Some of these animals are not just passing through. A certain cohort of them are likely to hang around for the next six or seven months.
“And the photo identification is telling us the same individuals are returning year after year, said Mr Whooley.
Ireland has a pretty unique whale-watching season in terms of its length, he said. “You can watch fin whales off the Irish south coast for about nine or 10 months of the year.
“February to March are the only tricky months. Real professional commercial whale-watching boats are taking people out for four- or five-hour trips and finding whales. It’s really reaching an international audience.”
“The whale-watching season in South Africa. which is considered by many to be the best whale-watching in the world, lasts probably about three-and-a-half to four months.”
They usually take deep dives looking for food and pop up for air every few seconds. Whale-watching enthusiasts can find the elusive animals when they come up for air leading to “blows” on the surface of the water.
The length of the whale watching season gives Ireland a unique offering and this is a positive boost for Irish tourism and people planning trips to Ireland.