INCREDIBLE drone footage has captured one of Europe's most well known humpback whales on its return to Co. Cork.
The whale, known as 'Boomerang', was first recorded in waters off west Cork in 2001 and has been returning to Irish waters for the last 20 years.
Locals gave the whale the name 'Boomerang' due to his constant return to Irish waters, and is recognisable due to his bent-over dorsal fin.
Whale watchers spotted the huge animal on Monday as it was feeding on a massive shoal of fish known as a bait ball.
The footage was captured by Cork native Sean Maxwell, who flew his drone out to sea and directly above where Boomerang was feeding, after he joined up with a number of fin whales.
"It was a beautiful day, great conditions out there and it was marvellous for everybody to see the humpback feeding," said Trish Gannon of Atlantic Whale and Wildlife Tours, who was aboard Maxwell's boat.
"It is a pretty rare sight to get it on camera, they were able to follow Boomerang for about 20 minutes, and Sean got the film of him feeding."
Rare drone footage of a humpback whale feeding near Courtmacsherry, West Cork.
Today’s trip was one that will live long in the memory. We followed “Boomerang” for 20 mins. He eventually located a huge bait ball. You can watch what happened next. Enjoy! pic.twitter.com/o6kXiIZ2Vf
— Whales and Wildlife (@atlanticwhales) August 3, 2020
Fianna Fáil TD for Cork South West Christopher O'Sullivan was on board a local tour boat.
"West Cork waters are absolutely teeming with wildlife at the moment, you've got a variety there, you've got common dolphins in big numbers, but also good numbers of humpback whales and fin whales," Mr O'Sullivan said.
He added: "We knew that they were fin whales because those blows tower 10m into the air.
"We also know that 'Boomerang' has a habit of hanging around with Fin Whales which is quite unusual to have Humpbacks and Fins associating together.
"We followed Boomerang for around 20 minutes and he located a huge group of Spratt.
"We launched the drone and Sean captured this incredible footage of boomerang the humpback whale absolutely devouring a bait ball".