BY MARTHA BRENNAN
THREE humpback whales were spotted off the coast of West Cork on World Oceans Day this week.
Cork South West’s high profile political couple, TDs Christopher O’Sullivan and Holly Cairns, were on a whale watching trip with Atlantic Whale & Wildlife Tours, based in Courtmacsherry, when they were treated to the sight of the whales feeding, just south of Seven Heads.
Deputy O’Sullivan, who managed to get photographs of the whales, described the increase in whale and dolphin sightings off the West Cork coast as ‘really exciting stuff.’
Before taking on his duties as a TD, Deputy O’Sullivan was a whale watching guide in West Cork with the Courtmacsherry-based company.
He said that the increase in sightings is mainly to do with the ban on whale hunting in the North Atlantic.
In the last year, the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group has reported nearly 100 sightings of humpback whales in Ireland, with many sightings off the West Cork coast.
More species have also been discovered in recent years, with West Cork being one of the richest feeding grounds for the animals.
June and July are particularly good months for whale sightings in Cork, with over 50 minke whales, fin whales and hundreds of dolphins populating the coast.
Atlantic Whale & Wildlife Tours, headed by Mark Gannon, can usually take up to 12 people on a tour. However, due to current Covid-19 restrictions, the tours are limited to family groups of up to six.
Deputy O’Sullivan described this week’s sighting as his best day on the water and said that whale watching tours are the perfect outdoor activity for families during the current phase of restrictions. ‘If you’re from Cork you have world class whale watching right here on your doorstep,’ he said.
Deputy O’Sullivan has spoken in the past of the great potential of whale watching as a vehicle for local tourism.