This summer has seen an abundance of marine life making an appearance off Ireland’s shores. A massive blue whale is the latest sea creature to add to that list.
A huge blue whale has been spotted in Irish waters for the first time in almost a decade.
The incredible mammals, which are the largest recorded species in the planet’s history, rarely appear on Irish shores. However, just last week, one was spotted just off the coast of Ireland.
An incredible sight – the largest animal in the world
The impressive blue whale was spotted in Irish waters, just off the coast of County Galway on 23 July.
The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) observed the incredible sea creature in the Porcupine Bank, 175 nautical miles northwest of Slyne Head, the most westerly point of Ireland.
According to the IWDG, this is the “first confirmed report in six years” of a blue whale in Irish waters. Even prior to this, there had only been 18 recorded sightings since 2008.
A unique animal – distinctive size and colouring
According to the IWDG, the blue whale is distinctive not only for its impressive size but also for its “mottled blue skin colour [that] is unique among whales”.
Declan Moran, an RV Celtic Explorer from the Marine Institute, recorded the sighting of the blue whale in Irish waters. Alongside the adult whale, Moran also recorded sightings of fin whales along the west coast of Ireland.
Blue whales measure up to 30 m (98 ft) in length and weigh almost 200 tonnes. Thus, making them the largest animals in the world.
An encouraging sight – great news for the species
The number of these incredible animals has fallen due to over-exploitation by commercial whale fisheries in the last century.
However, the practice was outlawed by the International Whaling Commission in 1966, and numbers have been steadily increasing.
Despite numbers of blue whales remaining relatively low, the IWDG have stated that the sighting of the blue whale in Irish waters is very encouraging.
In its latest report, the IWDG wrote, “It’s brilliant to know they are out there and using these offshore corridors to migrate between high latitude feeding areas and breeding areas.”
Difficult to know what this means – various interpretations
Group sightings officer of the IWDG Padraig Whooley stated it’s difficult to know what the sighting of the blue whale in Irish waters means for the future of the species.
He asked, “Does it mean there are very few big blues left out there? Or merely reflect that the areas they’re in are difficult to get to and even more difficult to spend time in during periods with good enough sea conditions to locate and count them?”
However, he reflected that any sighting of these majestic animals is a good sign.
“The fact that any blue whales at all are out there gives grounds for optimism, he said. “If there is one thing we know about nature, it’s that it’s resilient and can bounce back if left alone.”