herald

Friday 18 January 2019

Family of killer whales spotted off coast

A FAMILY of rare orca killer whales have been spotted by scientists off the coast of Ireland.

Researchers aboard the Marine Institute's Celtic Explorer vessel were thrilled to witness a pod of seven of the huge creatures as they breached Atlantic waters off the south west coast.

ENORMOUS

The sighting was made as part of the ongoing Cetaceans on the Frontier Survey being carried out by scientists on the RV Celtic Explorer.

The orcas, which can weigh up to six tonnes and measure up to eight metres in length, were photographed and documented by the team on Friday near the deep-water basin, the Porcupine Seabight.

"Two enormous, black, triangular dorsal fins came looming out of the water together on our starboard side no more than 50 metres out," the excited scientists reported on their blog.

"As the minutes ticked our count increased from two to three to five to seven. A mix of large fins and medium to small fins were noted, indicating a family group," they said.

Crew members William Hunt and Joanne O'Brien managed to nab pictures of the creatures during the 20-minute sighting.

It was the first time some of the ship's crew had ever seen killer whales, creatures which can reach speeds of up to 35mph.

hnews@herald.ie

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