Featured Image Credit: Arranmore Blue Ferry/Facebook
By: Kira Krall
Northwest Ireland got a big surprise when a whale carcass washed up on Arranmore Island this past week. The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group response team was joined by Arranmore Lifeboat, an organization that provides 24/7 search and rescue for the Island. Officials from both agencies determined that the animal had been dead for weeks before being pushed ashore by winds, waves, and currents. The public has been warned not to approach the carcass because of any disease it may be carrying and the potential for exploding whale syndrome.
It’s believed to be a fin whale due to the size, streamlined body, and small dorsal fin located near the tail. Fin whales are the second largest whale in the world. The largest Northern Hemisphere fin whales typically reach 74 feet, which puts their body size in a similar range to the smaller blue whales. The animal that not-so-gracefully arrived on Ireland’s shores was 65 feet long.
Fin whales can be observed near Ireland year round but are most frequently seen in fall and early winter. Not much is known about the particulars of fin whale migration patterns. Scientists believe that they follow similar migration patterns of other baleen whales. Fin whales are typically seen in Northwest Ireland in fall and very early winter, then likely migrate to other feeding grounds before making their way to the equator to mate and give birth. They’re the most commonly observed baleen whale in Irish waters.