The Weimaraner dog, Layney, must have thought all her birthdays had come together when she came across huge whale bones on the beach last Thursday morning.
Layney and her owner Collette Foster travelled from their home in the Mealagh Valley in Bantry in order to get in a good stretch of the legs at the appropriately named Long Strand.
Collette said the beach was fairly deserted at 11.30am but Layney lost no time in sniffing out the two sets of bones which have all the appearance of being the vertebrae of a whale.
‘The tide was starting to come back in when I saw the bones,’ she said.
‘I had no idea how old they were but it appeared as if there was still some tissue coming away from the bones and the discs in between the vertebrae are still there.’
Collette took some photographs of the bones with Layney in the background, which give an idea of just how big they are.
‘They were definitely too heavy to lift but I thought people with an interest in whales might like to know they are there and maybe go and see them before they are taken by the tide.
‘I was amazed by the sight of them,’ she added.
‘I have done scuba diving in the past but I never saw a whale and this gives you an idea of the incredible size of these creatures.’
Collette said she moved to West Cork from Cavan in 2019 – just before the lockdown – and loves the place for the nature.
‘I love the sea and I adore the hills – that was one of my reasons for coming down here. It is a fabulous place to be,’ she said.
Pádraig Whooley, sightings officer with the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, said the bones are quite likely to be the carcass of a sperm whale which was seen floating around Rosscarbery Bay in December, as the jawbone was also found on Long Strand in early January.
He said the carcass is now well broken up, but he asked people who find stranded whale or dolphins to report them to IWDG on the stranding portal on www.iwdg.ie.