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Dublin: 9 °C Thursday 17 October, 2019
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There's plenty of Humpbacks out there, but this year's Whale Watch day was a bit of a washout...

Around 1,500 people turned out all over Ireland’s coasts yesterday to squint through the mist and try and spot some elusive cetaceans.

Image: Pádraig Whooley, IWDG

ALL THE OMENS for Whale Watch day were positive leading up to yesterday’s nationwide event — but organisers are describing it as a ‘washout’ this afternoon.

Poor weather over much of the country meant some of the events had to be cancelled.

Some 1,500 people still turned out at viewing stations around the coast however — and, according to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, between 50 and 60 per cent would have seen some whale (or dolphin) based maritime activity.

“That’s not to say they would have seen Humpbacks breaching or anything like that, but they would have seen Harbour Porpoises or other common species,” says IWDG co-ordinator Pádraig Whooley.

“It’s all about educating people about the kinds of species you can see from land, all over the country.”

Whale Watch Day is organised every year to raise awareness of the 24 species of cetaceans (porpoises, dolphins and whales) that have been recorded around the Irish coast.

In addition to its educational angle, it also provides researchers with a unique snapshot of activity around the entire Irish coast.

IWDG members man stations in locations as varied as Bloody Foreland in Donegal to the Cork and Kerry coasts, Hook Head in Wexford and Howth in Dublin, and act as guides for volunteer whale-spotters.

Results are then logged and collated by the group, with the findings giving their researchers a year-on-year picture of what’s happening in Irish waters.

The IWDG said there had been record numbers of sightings of some species in the lead-up to yesterday’s event, including fin whales in West Cork and humpback whales off Kerry.

Pádraig Whooley, IWDG

Whooley said the IWDG was still collating the results of yesterday afternoon’s event.

The Humpback Whales pictured here were photographed as part of a collaboration between the group and the BBC’s Natural History Unit, off Kerry, last week.

Read: Kayaker’s encounter with a humpback whale is way too close for comfort

Read: Irish Air Corps capture amazing video of rare fin whale leaping out of the sea

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