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NAVAL officers have spotted the biggest-ever pod of killer whales off the coast of Ireland.

More than 100 of the magnificent mammals have been spotted feeding near Tory Island off Co Donegal.

At least a dozen killer whales - or orca - were spotted near an Irish Naval Service vessel on patrol late last month.

Lt Cmdr Paddy Harkin of the LE Niamh, the killer whales were feeding among shoals of mackerel that also attracted a lots of fishing boats.

The whales had followed the mackerel from west of the Hebrides in northwest Scotland, according to several fishing skippers. Lt Cmdr Harkin told the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group: "On January 27 and 28 we observed a significant number of killer whales west of Tory Island.

"In one of our photographs upwards on eight killer whales can be observed in a single photo, an estimate of 10 whales being visible at any one time is on the conservative side.

"On one occasion at least a dozen were within 200m of the ship. We observed the killer whales over a 30-mile stretch following the line of the mackerel shoals and fishing effort."

Dr Peter Tyndall from Bord Iasce Mhaire added the whales may have stayed with the fleet for a fortnight.


SOMEFIN ELSE Eight of the killer whales spotted off Tory Island
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 10, 2011
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