© Colin Barnes/Cork Whale Watch Some of the fin whales that have been seen off West Cork
The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) reports upwards of 30 fin whales along a 50km stretch of the West Cork coastline in southern Ireland, between the Old Head of Kinsale and the Kedge area, which is unusual for this time of year.

Colin Barnes from Cork Whale Watch, who has spent several weeks observing the build-up of this activity confirms there are huge 'fish clouds' comprising small sprat or larval herring in the area and these are likely to be what is attracting the fin whales in such numbers.

Combined estimates from land and boat based sightings suggest there could also be 20 or more fin whales in the waters between Seven Heads and Galley Head, County Cork.

This gathering is certainly the largest validated aggregation of this species so far this year and although not without precedent, it is unusual for so many fin whales to be inshore this early in the season.

This sort of activity is generally associated with a later peak between October and December each year.

Whale watchers are encouraged by IDWG to view the whales from land-based vantage points - elevated sites such as Cloghna Head, Galley Head, Sandscove/Ardfield, Dunworley and Sevens Heads.

There is a lot of wind out there at the moment so it is important to pick a moment when there is a lull in the breeze and the sea calms down.

The bonus is that this activity is not in isolation, as County Kerry has enjoyed a run of humpback whales in recent weeks and minke whales are appearing in the Irish Sea.

All this bodes well for this year's All-Ireland Whale Watch Day taking place on headlands around the coast on Sunday 24 August between 2:00pm and 5:00pm.

For the latest information on this and other validated cetacean sightings, go to