South West Wales

Winter whale-spotting first on Fishguard-Rosslare ferry

Fin Whale seen from aboard the Fishguard-Rosslare ferry
Image caption Sea Trust volunteers spotted the fin whales during their monthly survey from the Fishguard to Rosslare ferry

Wildlife volunteers have sighted two giant fin whales in Welsh waters.

A survey team from the Sea Trust spotted the mammals from the Fishguard to Rosslare ferry.

The charity said while fin whales have been seen on the route during the summer it was the first time it had seen them in winter.

Survey coordinator Cliff Benson said it was "incredibly exciting" and their presence was possibly due to recovering herring stocks.

He said volunteers were alerted by "towering water blows" from the sea while on the bridge of the Stena Europe on Thursday.

The Sea Trust carries out monthly surveys from the ferry.

"Over the past few years both fin whales and humpback whales have started wintering off the southern Irish coast, probably attracted by recovering herring stocks," he said.

"From our observations common dolphins are becoming more numerous in the southern Irish Sea during the winter months and now we have recorded these fin whales.

"It was incredibly exciting, the whales blast a thirty foot high column of vapour skywards as they surface to breath.

"In the cold winter air, the blow hangs in the sky like a massive crystal plume before slowly dissipating".

Mr Benson said fin whales grow up to 25m in length and can weigh more than 70 tonnes.

"We have seen them in Welsh waters several times now in the summer months but this is the first time we have recorded them in the winter.

"There is so much we do not know about whales and dolphins, but with the help of Stena Line allowing us to conduct our monthly surveys aboard their ferry, over the past eight years, Sea Trust volunteers are slowly building a unique picture of their presence in the southern Irish Sea".

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