THE Irish Whale and Dolphin Group have confirmed the sighting of two Blue Whales about 60 miles west of Dursey Island on Tuesday.
The sighting of the world’s largest animal in Irish waters is a rare occurrence although they were thought to be fairly common prior to large-scale commercial whaling.
The whales are generally found in deep waters close to the edge of the continental shelf and there are regular sightings further north.
The animals were estimated to be about 25 metres in length and surfaced within 200 metres of the boat.
Mature adults can reach an incredible 33 metres in length and can weigh up to 178,000kg.
Although much rarer now, there have been a number of sightings off the Irish west coast in recent years.
Research using US Navy underwater recording equipment has detected blue whale mating calls off the west and northwest coasts indicates that an estimated 30-50 may pass through Irish waters each year.
A single animal was sighted by researchers in UCC in the Rockall Trough in 2001.
More recently two animals were photographed by IWDG staff and members feeding among fin whales along the shelf slopes, off the west coast in September 2008.
The latest two whales were spotted during the maiden voyage of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group’s new marine research vessel, Celtic Mist that was previously owned by former Taoiseach Charles Haughey.