Rare whale dies after getting into distress in Wicklow Harbour

Mammal used to deep water of Atlantic became stranded off east coast on Saturday

A rare beaked whale died in Wicklow Harbour on Saturday evening.

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) reported the sighting of the male Sowerby’s beaked whale, a species of toothed whale normally found in the north Atlantic.

The group said the whale got stranded near the local sailing club after losing its bearings.

It added deep-diving beaked whales were particularly sensitive to acoustic trauma and feared it would have to be euthanised.


Later, the group said on Facebook: “Sadly the male Sowerby’s whale has died. From the outset it appeared to be in poor health, appearing disorientated and having difficulty moving. Therefore, it would not have been a candidate for refloating. Euthanasia is also extremely difficult in these circumstances due to the large size of the animal as well as public safety concerns.

“IWDG are extremely grateful for all the help received in order to respectfully and safely remove the animal from the harbour after it died.”

The group said in a statement it was “delighted to have been asked by the NPWS [National Parks and Wildlife Service] to recover the whale for a full postmortem”.

“The Regional Vet Lab in Backweston, Co Kildare, is available to carry out the necropsy.”

IWDG chief executive Dr Simon Berrow said: “While we might not be able to understand exactly why it died, we will be able to find out more about the life of these rare and enigmatic whales.”

Simon Bracken

Simon Bracken

Simon Bracken is a journalist at The Irish Times