Rare footage has been recorded of one of Europe's best known humpback whales feeding during what is the animal's latest visit to waters off west Cork.

'Boomerang' the humpback whale - tagged as HBIRL3 - was first recorded in waters off west Cork in 2001 and has been returning to Irish waters for the last 20 years.

Fianna Fáil TD for Cork South West Christopher O'Sullivan was on board a local tour boat in Courtmacsherry Bay before encountering the animal, which had joined up with a group of fin whales.

He captured the footage on his phone, while skipper Sean Maxwell also captured drone footage from above.

Fin whales are the second biggest animals alive - growing up to 26 metres. 'Boomerang' gained his name as a result of his constant return to Irish waters, and is recognisable due to his bent-over dorsal fin.

"West Cork waters are absolutely teeming with wildlife at the moment, you've got a variety there, you've got common dolphins in big numbers, but also good numbers of humpback whales and fin whales," Mr O'Sullivan said.

"As we left Courtmacsherry pier and headed out to Courtmachsherry bay, we saw three large blows to the east," he said.

He added: "We knew that they were fin whales because those blows tower 10m into the air.

"We also know that 'Boomerang' has a habit of hanging around with Fin Whales which is quite unusual to have Humpbacks and Fins associating together."

"We followed Boomerang for around 20 minutes and he located a huge group of Spratt.

"We launched the drone and Sean captured this incredible footage of boomerang the humpback whale absolutely devouring a bait ball".

The Irish whale and dolphin group have a catalogue of humpback whales which recently reached a milestone of 100. 

They are able to document them by identifying their tail fluke. 

With 'Boomerang', he is unmistakable as he has a unique dorsal fin bent at an almost 90 degree angle.