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West coast killers sighted off the Irish coast

Wild Scotland member, the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust’s (HWDT) catalogued orca have been positively identified off the Irish coast by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG).  The adult male “John Coe” has been sighted in Irish waters before but only as a solitary animal, these sightings suggest the entire Hebridean population was present.

On July 5th, at almost exactly the same time, two separate pods were sighted.  The first pod was a group of 5 individuals, 2 males and 3 females, sighted off Erris Head Co. Mayo heading east towards the Stags of Broadhaven.  Positive matches of the males have been made and “Floppy Fin” (pictured), and “Aquarius” have been identified.  “Nicola”, “Lulu” and individual numbered 010 have also been identified as the females present.  This combination of animals was observed several times in 2008. The second pod was a group of 4 individuals and a positive match was made of “John Coe”, an old male with a very distinctive dorsal fin.  Also present was the male orca “Comet”, and females “Puffin” and 007. The group was sighted between Aran Islands and Black Head, Co. Clare at the mouth of Galway Bay, travelling south.

The number of orca sighted totaled 9, the exact number of individuals in the ‘west coast community’ – it could well be that all the Hebridean population were sighted!  Photo-identification has enabled scientists to identify all of the animals in these sightings. This information will contribute directly to research conducted by Andy Foote, a PhD student from Aberdeen who has been working with HWDT to better understand the ‘west coast community’ of killer whales.

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