Rare sighting of killer whale off the Kerry coast

It’s been a bumper season for whale, dolphin and shark watching with the animals spotted up and down our coasts.

Rare sighting of killer whale off the Kerry coast

But that doesn’t mean we can’t get excited by a new one - especially a rare sighting such as this.

Photographer Richard Creagh and other whale-watchers were out on the water off Slea Head in Kerry on Monday when he was lucky enough to snap some amazing photos of a killer whale.

The killer whale spotted on Monday with Ceann Sibeal in the background
The killer whale spotted on Monday with Ceann Sibeal in the background

And not just any orca - this one is a male named John Coe, a member of a group that regularly feeds off the western coast of Scotland - and according to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, is one of the best known killer whales in the British Isles, having been first photographed off the Scottish Hebrides back in 1983.

John Coe is readily identifiable thanks to the large notch on the base of the trailing edge of his dorsal fin and while it is not his first visit to the area (he was last spotted in our waters in 2013 off the Mayo coast), it’s rare enough for everyone to be a bit starstruck.

The Orca is recognisable by the distinctive notch in his dorsal fin
The Orca is recognisable by the distinctive notch in his dorsal fin

And it’s something Richard has been looking forward to for years.

"I’ve been going out on whale and dolphin watching trips for nearly ten years and this year is my fourth year working on a boat dedicated to finding wildlife at sea. In all that time I’ve been lucky to see some amazing marine life and have plenty of great memories made. The animals that inhabit the sea fascinate me, so it’s always exciting to see something you’ve not seen before.

"Up to now killer whales had always eluded me but today I got to add them to my list, and what a sight it was! I’m still buzzing!"

John Coe near Ferriter’s Cove
John Coe near Ferriter’s Cove

The IWDG have asked members of the public to keep an eye out for more sightings of Jonh Coe and noted that it was unusual for him to travelling alone as, in the past, he has travelled with at least one other pod member, usually a female known as Nicola.

They also shared concerns about the survival of John Coe’s pod - he was of adult age 33 years and, like many members of the aging sub-pod of 8 adults, he getting on.

"Today there are grave concerns for the future survival of this pod whose territory extends into Irish waters. One major concern is that it is many years since there has been any new additions to this group, and zero recruitment means that this group will ultimately die off; something which would be a great loss to our marine biodiversity."

H/T: BreakingNews.ie

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