Arctic beluga whale seen in Northern Ireland
Nobody will deny that the weather has been colder than usual in Scotland and Ireland this summer. It is tempting to think that the cold conditions might account for a rare arctic visitor which appeared off the Co. Antrim coast yesterday 30 July. Gareth Watson from Ballycastle submitted a sighting record and a video to HWDT this afternoon, showing what is undoubtedly a beluga whale, swimming along close to shore near Dunseverick, Co. Antrim. Although we have no experts on beluga whales in HWDT, it looks as though the whale was in good condition and was swimming strongly.
According to Peter Evans (Sea Watch Foundation and Trustee of HWDT) "Besides the two sightings from Mayo and Cork, there have been 14 previous confirmed records in the British Isles since 1950, ten in the last 30 years, the most recent being a stranded animal found in East Scotland last year." We believe it is the first for Northern Ireland and it is the third record for the island of Ireland since the 1980s.
Incredibly, on the same day only 50 km to the northeast, a killer whale was recorded (near Gigha) and closer still, a humpback was observed off Southend, the Mull of Kintyre. A busy day for sightings of rarely seen and iconic whale species!
Photograph courtesy of Gareth Watson