Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Giant humpback whales filmed off Wexford coast

A humpback whale in the waters off Hook Head, Co Wexford
A humpback whale in the waters off Hook Head, Co Wexford
A humpback whale in the waters off Hook Head, Co Wexford

This magnificent creature of the deep seems to defy gravity as it emerges from the sea in a display of breathtaking power and natural grace.

Proudly displaying its chest to the heavens amid a spray of sea water, the giant humpback whale was captured on camera off the coast of Co Wexford.

In remarkable scenes captured three miles off Hook Head, the whale treated wide-eyed spectators to a show of ‘breaching’ — something which many people can normally only dream of seeing in real life — and providing some of the most dramatic wildlife footage ever shot around the Irish coast.

Padraig Whooley, of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG), chartered a boat after reports of large numbers of whales in the area since early this month.

“One of the largest creatures on the planet ‘exploding' out of the water is truly one of the most remarkable sights in the animal kingdom,” he said.

“None of the researchers had previously witnessed it in Irish waters.”

Humpbacks, which were once hunted to near-extinction, are now found in every ocean and can grow to about 50 feet (15m) and weigh up to 40 tons.

Scientists are not sure if breaching — or jumping from the water — serves some purpose, such as cleaning pests from the whale's skin or whether whales simply do it for fun. Wildlife filmmaker Ross Bartley was on board to capture the 45-minute spectacle in high definition.

The footage will be screened in the upcoming Wild Journeys series on RTE which tells the story of humpback whale migration between Ireland and the Cape Verde islands.

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