The event is rare enough to be mentioned: an impressive blue whale was spotted last week, off the Irish coast (Co. Galway). A phenomenon that had NOT occurred for 6 years! Observed on July 23 by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG), this whale is one of the largest animals on the planet… and there have only been 18 sightings of such animals along the Irish coast since 2008.
The whale was observed in an area of Porcupine Bank, along the edge of the Irish shelf, approximately 175 nautical miles northwest of Slyne Head-the westernmost point of County Galway. For IWDG specialists, there is no doubt that blue whales use this area to migrate between high latitude feeding grounds and breeding grounds.
Other whales could therefore logically be encountered in this area. Scientists intend to carefully monitor this corridor: the encounter of other blue whales of this type could support this hypothesis.
Unfortunately, this species is currently threatened with extinction. Indeed, the blue whale has always been hunted by humans. Highly sought after in the 19th century, it was appreciated for its “oil”: a powerful fuel that allowed cities to light their way. The growing needs in Europe in terms of energy resources, pushed the fishermen to fish more and more the blue whale… risking until its extinction.
Fortunately, their hunting has been banned since, and the number of blue whales is slowly increasing (although these animals are now threatened by pollution, climate change … etc.).
Nevertheless, the presence of these whales in Irish waters is a strong sign. With a bit of luck, these whales are expanding and appreciate the purity of local waters…