Young humpback whale washes ashore in West Cork
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Young humpback whale washes ashore in West Cork

THERE IS widespread sadness today after a juvenile humpback whale was found washed ashore in West Cork.

The juvenile was found floating in Roaringwater Bay near Schull in West Cork on Wednesday, with the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group publicising the sad news.

According to the expert group, sightings of humpback whales in Irish waters have been on the increase in recent years, with 109 individual creatures registered in the humpback catalogue-- but this particular whale had not been documented in Irish waters before.

More whales means that strandings will become more likely, a spokesperson for the group said, but the stranding of a humpback in County Cork is still exceedingly rare-- this is just the second time it has happened since 1893.

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A dead juvenile humpback whale has come ashore in Roaringwater Bay, Co. Cork (Wed. 24th February). IWDG will be...

Posted by Irish Whale and Dolphin Group on Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Through photographs sent to them by Schull Sea Safari team Robbie Shelly and Helen Tilson, the IWDG team were able to confirm that the whale was a male and a juvenile-- not unexpected as humpback breeding season begins and creatures of breeding age begin to move into "low latitude" sites.

The IWDG are now working to discover what could have caused the whale to die and become stranded, with IWDG Sightings Officer Pádrag Whooley stating the images they have seen so far "suggest it is in rather thin condition and so may not have been fed for some time".

Thankfully there is no obvious evidence of rope entanglement to suggest it had become caught in fishing lines, or visual evidence of 'ship strike'.

The team at IWDG have confirmed they will travel out to the whale to perform a full inspection, and are working with the National Parks & Wildlife Service and Cork County Council to discuss the potential removal of the whale's body, "but at its current remote location, far from houses or popular beaches, there is no strong case for removal".

 

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