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  • Northside East

Fishermen spot whales off the coast of Skerries 

Monday, 26th November, 2018 1:00pm
Fishermen spot whales off the coast of Skerries 

A file photo of killer whales. PHOTO: BIGSTOCK

Fishermen spot whales off the coast of Skerries 

A file photo of killer whales. PHOTO: BIGSTOCK

Callum Lavery

 

TWO killer whales were spotted of the coast of Skerries last Saturday week, November 17.

The whales were captured on video by two fishermen around eight kilometres east of Rockabill Island near the Skerries coast. 

According to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG), this is the second sighting of killer whales near the Skerries coast in two weeks.

IWDG Sighting Officer Padraig Whooley said on the group’s website that they believed the whales to be male.

“Whilst fishing some six miles east of Rockabill, the crew observed and filmed a pair of adult male (bull) killer whales (Orca), which interestingly they felt at the time were hunting,” said Whooley. 

“Although difficult to be certain, they were hunting either seals or harbour porpoises, suggesting that these are a marine mammal feeding eco-type.

“The observation took place over a two-hour period and at times the animals came very close to the trawler which was working at the time and enabled the crew secure video footage of the animals.”

The video of the whales was originally posted on Facebook by local fishermen. In the video the fishermen guessed that the pair of whales could be ‘John Coe’ and ‘Dopey Dick’, a pair belonging to the Scottish west coast community group of Orca whales.

However, the IWDG said they are unable to confirm the identities of the whales. To date, there have been dozens of confirmed killer whale sightings around the Irish coast this year. 

The previous sighting of whales in the area two weeks ago was recorded as another pair of orcas travelling north around 35 kilometres east of the Skerries coast. 

However, orca sightings are not rare in Irish waters. Mr Whooley said the IWDG has been recording killer whale sightings for the past 25 years.

“They are not a new species for Irish waters and since IWDG began collating cetacean (collective name for whales, dolphins and porpoises) records in Irish waters over 25 years ago, we have validated 216 killer whale sighting records,” he said. 

“Most Irish killer whale sightings occur between April-October, which likely reflects some observer bias as most people spend more time by, in, or on the sea during this period.”

Joe May, owner of Joe May’s pub in Skerries and a member of Skerries RNLI Lifeboat, said the whales being spotted is welcome news to the community, but advised to practice caution if near them on the water.

“I think there was a little bit of excitement and a little bit of curiosity in the area,” Mr May told Northside People.

“I’m not sure that people are aware that those sort of whales are in these waters. They are wondering if this is a regular occurance of if it’s just the one off.

“These are wild creatures. I wouldn’t be approaching them in any way, and if you were trying to look for them you would probably need to talk to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group for some advice and their advice would probably be: stay away as much as possible.“

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