HUGE numbers of dolphins and basking sharks have been spotted off the West Cork coast over the past few days, and the timing couldn’t have been better.
David Edwards, who runs West Cork Charters out of Courtmacsherry, has had scientists from Trinity, Stanford and Oregan State Universities on board his boat to study basking sharks off the West Cork coast.
‘We’ve found over 200 and they’re using all sorts of technology to get new data,’ said David.
Nic Slocum of Whale Watch West Cork said his tours last weekend enjoyed sightings of up to 500 dolphins on a single trip.
‘The season is off to a great start,’ said Nic, who explained that it isn’t unusual to see dolphins locally right now, but what’s unusual is how many are here.
‘It comes down to the feed availability. They’re feeding on sand eels and there seems to be a good stock of them,’ said Nic.
Basking sharks are also here in numbers. ‘We saw five animals in single groups last weekend,’ said Nic.
FF TD Christopher O’Sullivan, who is also an avid whale watcher, said he saw his first humpback of the season last weekend, 12 miles south of Stags Head.
‘There were also sightings of basking sharks, 10 metres long, in Clonakilty and Courtmacsherry,’ he said.
‘There’s been great activity, highlighting what I’ve said before, which is West Cork’s huge potential to develop marine tourism.’
Nic said they’re already seeing Dutch and German visitors, along with some French and Italian, which is very encouraging.