The sensational appearance of a pod of killer whales off the North Inishowen coast on Wednesday is only the third recorded sightings of these magnificent sea creatures off our coast.
According to Emmett Johnston, the noted marine life expert, a killer whale - nicknamed by locals as ‘Dopey Dick’ - came up the Foyle to Derry in 1975, in 2005 three were spotted at Kinnego bay but Wednesday’s sightings have created a real stir with eight of the mammals off Malin Head.
The ‘family’ of orcas has caused a real stir with local man Kevin Doherty’s video of his encounter with the pod near Dunaff Head as they moved along the coast to Fanad Head was proving a real hit on You-Tube - ou can watch the video here.
Yesterday Emmett Johnston told the ‘Journal’ that while he believed the whales were probably always moving along the Donegal coast modern technology has helped to bring the story alive.
“Fishermen were accused of telling tall tales about the monsters of the sea years ago.
“Now technology has proved that they might not have been telling tales at all.
“Off Malin Head there is what’s known as a ‘tidal front’ where the Irish Sea meets the North Atlantic Drift. This brings lots of fish and nutrients to that area, and obviously this attracts the hunters of the sea - the killer whales or Orcas to give them their scientific name, and the basking sharks.
“This particular family of whales is famous.
“They have been spotted in the past off the coast of the Hebrides as they made their way up to Norway and Iceland. But this is the first time they have been spotted here.”
Heavily involved in research in the area Emmett Johnston, who is co-ordinator of the Basking Shark Project in Inishowen, says the massive rise in publicity about marine life off the Donegal coast can only be a good thing.
He commented: “In recent times we have got a lot of publicity about the huge creatures which roam around the coast of Inishowen.
“ We can make this work for us by using the local marine life in a sustainable way.
“I work with a lot of fishermen and for a whole host of reasons many of them say they would not be encouraging their children to follow them.
“But there are other ways to make a living from the sea - eco tourism is one.
“What’s to stop some one here from buying a boat and starting a sea tourism business?
“It could be the way to go!”