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Dublin: 13 °C Friday 20 July, 2018
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Whales are dying off the coast of Kerry, and no one seems to know why

At least three dead minke whales have been spotted off the Dingle peninsula in three months – a quarter of all strandings since 2000.

CONCERNS HAVE BEEN raised after a raft of whale strandings off the coast of Kerry.

At least three dead minke whales have been spotted in the area off the Dingle peninsula in the past three months – a quarter of the entire strandings database, which goes back to 2000.

The three confirmed strandings appeared to be juveniles, with lengths reported as 3 metres, 4.5 metres and 6 metres, while two more possible deaths were reported off the Blasket Islands.

Another whale died off the coast of Down earlier this week, according to Mick O’Connell, strandings co-ordinator of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group.

“There’s been at least three minke whales stranded in Dingle Bay since the middle of April,” he told TheJournal.ie.

We don’t know the reasons for it. Two of them were still floating at sea, the third of them was up on shore.

Minke One of the dead minke whales spotted off the coast of Kerry. Source: Mick Sheeran

“There is no post-mortem scheme down here, and you couldn’t see any obvious cause of death. I mean, I wouldn’t say Dingle Bay is too polluted.

“There were a couple of other animals hurt, one of them ended up on the Blasket Islands.

So there were at least four, and as many as six when you consider the whale washed in St John’s Point in Co Down.

“That was entangled in ropes, maybe from lobster pots or netting.”

Whale washed up in Kent A minke whale measuring 11 metres was washed off on the coast of Kent last October. Source: PA

Dolphins

Barry Bambury of Bambury’s B&B in Dingle, said he spotted one of the whale strandings earlier this month.

“I spotted it just outside Ventry harbour, when I was out on my own boat with a friend.

“I thought it was a paddle boat, and when I went over, it was very buoyant whale, with a seagull picking on it. It was the first time I’d ever seen a dead one, it was only a young whale.”

The whale strandings follow the deaths of 28 dolphins in January and February of this year, the highest level since records began in 2000.

“The funny thing is, the minke whale deaths seems to be a localised phenomenon,” O’Connell adds.

“While the strandings are higher around Dingle Bay, for the country as a whole the numbers aren’t big.”

Whale A fin whale spotted off the coast of Galway last September. Source: Air Corps

Mick Sheerin of Blasket Islands Marine Eco Tours, told TheJournal.ie:

We’ve had at least four minke whale strandings, which is a phenomenal amount for just this area.

Minke whales are regular visitors to Irish coasts from March to November, especially to the Blaskets and along the rest of the west coast – but also in the Irish Sea.

“There’s a good few of them around,” O’Connell added.

It’s very unusual to have so many dead ones in the one small area, in the space of 10 or 12 weeks.

Read: Three whales washed up on a Kerry beach and one may not survive

Read: Foreign supertrawlers blamed for ‘dolphin carnage’ off Irish coast

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