Humpback whale spotted in waters off Howth Head

 

MEMBERS OF the public could be in for a whale of a time this weekend with reports of a massive marine mammal off the Dublin coast.

A humpback whale has been spotted in waters off Howth, north Co Dublin, the first sighting in the area in almost 20 years and one of only a handful of validated recordings of the species in Irish waters over the past century.

The mammal, which tends to have a preference for shallow coastal waters according to Pádraig Whooley, sightings co-ordinator with the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, is believed to be sub-adult “or a teenager in human terms”.

A 10-year-old boy who was taking part in a sailing course was in the water when the mammal surfaced on Thursday afternoon. The whale swam between the rescue boat and the young sailor as he waited to be picked up by an instructor.

The mammal was photographed within metres of the Cardinal marker off Howth Head, between Ireland’s Eye and Howth harbour.

The photographer, Seán Pierce of Shearwater Sea Kayaking said: “It stayed around Cardinal Mark off Howth for over two hours . . . lolling about pushing [its] head into trailing weed and perhaps scratching itself.”

Neil Cramer spotted the humpback off Skerries on Wednesday evening. The whale was just astern of the committee boat which was anchored, he said.

“The whale remained in close proximity to the boat for about 20-30 minutes and came to within touching distance of the boat,” Mr Cramer added.