A young dead whale has washed up and been stranded off the West Cork coast.
The humpback whale came ashore off Coney Island, west Roaringwater Bay yesterday afternoon.
While humpback sightings are rare, they have been increasing in recent years.
Humpback strandings are very rare, however. According to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) only eight have been recorded in Ireland since 1893.
This is only the second such stranding of a humpback ever recorded in Cork.
The IWDG is now in the process of investigating what happened to the young calf.
The male whale measured 10 metres in length and was not an individual previously documented in Irish waters.
The humpback whale recently washed up in Roaringwater Bay. IWDG hope to visit the stranded whale today. Images courtesy of Robbie Shelly and Helen Tilson of @SchullSeafari pic.twitter.com/N9lUDQbIN4— Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (@IWDGnews) February 25, 2021
IWDG Sightings Officer Pádraig Whooley said that humpbacks would be now moving into humpback breeding season with “most adults of breeding age are either en route to or already at the low latitude breeding sites."
He said that young humpbacks are known to opt out of this season and swim to higher latitudes in search of food.
Speculating as to what happened to this particular whale, Mr Whooley said the creature’s thin condition likely means he went some time without feeding.
“There are no obvious signs of rope marks or net damage that may suggest entanglement in fishing and there were also no large traumas that would suggest ship strike,” he said.
“So as is so often the case, the circumstances underpinning this stranding event are unclear. "
IWDG officials plan to visit the site in the coming days take detailed measurements and get skin and blubber samples for genetics, contaminants and stable isotope analyses.
The group said that they have consulted with the National Parks & Wildlife Service on the situation and will work closely with them and Cork County Council in relation to further examinations and ultimate removal of the whale off-site.