IWDG Whale-Watching weekend courses

14th Aug 2008 On completion of the very successful June and July Whale Watching weekend courses, we still have a few places left on the 3rd and last of our weekend courses on Cape Clear Island on 29-31 August course. This is generally the most productive of the 3 courses in terms of sightings, as encounter rates and species diversity increases as summer starts changing to autumn.

These courses, which IWDG have been running since 2001, are a relaxed affair, with plenty of scope to enjoy a taste of one of Ireland's most stunning Islands. These courses are a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the 24 species of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) found in Irish waters.

Suitable from ages of 14 upwards, these courses cater for all levels of interest ranging from the complete novice to the wildlife enthusiast keen to learn more. Crucially, in taking part you are supporting the conservation and research work being carried out by the IWDG, who have been promoting whale and dolphin conservation in Ireland since 1991.

Bottlenose dolphins, South Hbr. Cape Clear during pelagic, © Pádraig Whooley, IWDG

Over the weekend's series of lectures and guided watches, you will learn the field-skills required to observe, identify and record our marine megafauna. Weather permitting, we will organise a boat trip on the Saturday, where we will survey Cape's inshore waters out towards the Fastnet Rock which lies five miles off Ireland's southern most tip. This boat trip generally provides close quarter encounters of any cetaceans present, and always presents stunning photo opportunities of West Cork's rugged coastline.

Cape Clear has long been known by birders as Ireland's premiere destination for seabirds and rare passerines, but in recent years it has become equally well-known as one of Ireland's premiere whale watching hot-spots, boasting an impressive species diversity and high encounter rate from its magnificent south facing cliffs.

The courses will be run by IWDG Sightings Co-ordinator, Pádraig Whooley, who has been delivering them since 2001. Since then, course participants have enjoyed sightings of seven cetacean species, including: harbour porpoise, common dolphin, bottlenose & Risso's dolphin, minke and humpback whale and yes, even killer whales. But the most commonly observed species are the harbour porpoise, common dolphin and minke whale. Other species such as basking sharks, leatherback turtles and sunfish may also be seen on occasion.

The weekends are a mix of cliff and boat-based sea watches, with cetacean workshops and presentations. Participants must be on Cape Clear Island on the Friday, as the courses start that evening at 21:00 with registration, and the first presentation. The course fee is €90 p/p (€70 IWDG members), which includes all tuition, guided land-based watches, a years IWDG membership and a resource pack. These prices do not include your accommodation, food or the price of the boat-based whale watch trip. IWDG will assist you if you have any accommodation issues or travel queries.

Cape Clear and Roaringwater Bay, © Steve Wing, CCBO

To ensure attention to detail, places will be limited to 20 people on a first come, first served basis. Places are secured on receipt of a €25 deposit p/p, payable

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