There was a sighting of the elusive blue whale in Irish waters in 2009, but the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group are planning on berthing the Celtic Mist on the edge of the continental shelf to find out if they are resident off our coast.
There has only been a handful of sightings of the majestic animals in Irish waters since whaling stations closed down in 1922.
The whale, with a heart the size of a small car and a mouth large enough to hold 100 people, is thought to pass by Ireland every year on its migratory path.
Dr Simon Berrow, who founded the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, said the boat will allow the group to research the presence of the 100-foot long creatures.
“We’ve made two sightings of the blue whale on the shelf edge but with the Celtic Mist we will be able to go out there for a few weeks and sit there and wait for them,” he said. “Hopefully we will find some more when we bring the Celtic Mist out there. They are very rare.
“In 2008 and 2009, we had two photographic sightings of blue whale and one of my students came back from a recent expedition and said he thought he spotted a blue whale out there. He saw a great blow but this isn’t a confirmed sighting.”
Blue whales are the largest animal ever to have lived and are even larger than dinosaurs. They are a sub-species of baleen whale, feeding mainly on krill, which can grow to 100 feet long and weigh up to 150 tonnes. They are long-lived with an average lifespan of 110 years and are capable of making noises as loud as a jet engine though at frequencies too low for a human being to hear.
The Celtic Mist, which is worth almost €200,000, was gifted to the marine group earlier in the year. The group will be carrying out renovation work on the cabins to turn the 52 foot motor sailor ketch into a research vessel.