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IWDG Hosting Free, Guided Land-Based Whale Watches This Saturday for Biodiversity Week

19th May 2022
Whale watchers at Cloghna Head in Co Cork
Whale watchers at Cloghna Head in Co Cork, one of this Saturday’s five viewing sites Credit: IWDG

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) is running a series of land-based, guided whale watches in five counties around the island of Ireland this Saturday 21 May.  

Hosted in celebration of Biodiversity Week and to promote the biological recording of marine wildlife like cetaceans and basking sharks in Irish waters, these free events will be led by experienced IWDG personnel and local members who will be on hand to introduce you to the field skills involved in locating, identifying and recording the more frequently seen whale and dolphin species in Irish waters.

No pre-bookings necessary so you can just turn up on the morning with your optics, sense of adventure — and sense of humour!

Whale watches are taking place this Saturday morning in the following locations:

  • Loop Head, Co. Clare, meeting at Lighthouse, leader Mags Daly, tel 083 8401102, email: [email protected]
  • Dun na mBó, Mullett Peninsula, Co Mayo, leader Sean Pierce, tel 086 8368736, email: [email protected]
  • Rathlin Island, Co Antrim, meeting at West Lighthouse, leader Pádraig Whooley, tel 086 3850568, email: [email protected] 
  • Howth Head, Co Dublin, meeting at Balscadden Car Park, little shop (Howth Hub), leader Dave O’Connor, tel 087 6665049, email: [email protected]
  • Cloghna Head, West Cork, meeting at Galley Head View car park, leader Denis O’Regan, tel 083 3369775, email: [email protected]

All five whale watches will take place from 10am to noon so you should arrive at your local meeting point in good time (9.50am) to ensure you don’t miss the welcome, introduction and safety briefing. 

As whale watching requires reasonable weather, watch leaders reserve the right to cancel a local watch in the event of strong winds and/or rain, so our advice as always is to keep a close eye on the local weather forecast. If in any doubt, contact your local watch leader the day before your event (details below) to avoid a wasted journey.

You should dress appropriately for conditions on the day. The IWDG suggests warm and waterproof clothing and sturdy footwear if the forecast is marginal. If the weather is settled, then of course you should apply sunblock and wear a sun hat.

Also please remember to take away your rubbish, as these sites are both scenic and rich in biodiversity. It’s best to leave family pets at home.

Optics are important for land-based whale watching and at a minimum you should bring a pair of binoculars with which you’re familiar, and better again if you have a wildlife spotting scope. A camera with zoom lens is an optional extra, in case animals venture close to the shore.

Watch leaders will have some educational material to hand out and some will have whale artefacts of interest to show participants on the day. 

There will be some IWDG resources and field guides for sale for anyone who’d like to support our charities work and learn more about our recording schemes.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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Marine Wildlife Around Ireland One of the greatest memories of any day spent boating around the Irish coast is an encounter with marine wildlife.  It's a thrill for young and old to witness seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales right there in their own habitat. As boaters fortunate enough to have experienced it will testify even spotting a distant dorsal fin can be the highlight of any day afloat.  Was that a porpoise? Was it a whale? No matter how brief the glimpse it's a privilege to share the seas with Irish marine wildlife.

Thanks to the location of our beautiful little island, perched in the North Atlantic Ocean there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe.

From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals this page documents the most interesting accounts of marine wildlife around our shores. We're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and youtube clips.

Boaters have a unique perspective and all those who go afloat, from inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing that what they encounter can be of real value to specialist organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) who compile a list of sightings and strandings. The IWDG knowledge base has increased over the past 21 years thanks in part at least to the observations of sailors, anglers, kayakers and boaters.

Thanks to the IWDG work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. Here's the current list: Atlantic white-sided dolphin, beluga whale, blue whale, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, Cuvier's beaked whale, false killer whale, fin whale, Gervais' beaked whale, harbour porpoise, humpback whale, killer whale, minke whale, northern bottlenose whale, northern right whale, pilot whale, pygmy sperm whale, Risso's dolphin, sei whale, Sowerby's beaked whale, sperm whale, striped dolphin, True's beaked whale and white-beaked dolphin.

But as impressive as the species list is the IWDG believe there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you are out on the ocean waves keep a sharp look out!

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