Whale Watch Ireland 2012 report

25th Aug 2012

On Sunday 19th August the Irish Whale & Dolphin Group delivered Whale Watch Ireland 2012. This All–Ireland Whale Watch day comprised free, guided whale watches at 17 sites throughout the country.

This event now in its 12th year is one of the largest events on the Irish wildlife calendar and was attended by c915 whale watchers and visitors alike at 16 sites, spread out over 12 counties, and in all four provinces, see breakdown on table below.

To maximize the impact of this event it was once again timed to coincide with Heritage Week, thus helping us introduce this event to an even wider audience.  The main objective of this event is to raise awareness of the 24 species of cetaceans (whales and dolphins) recorded to date in Irish waters, and to promote their conservation by highlighting public participation in our successfully recording schemes, which encourage members of the public to report sightings and strandings to the IWDG.

Unfavourable weather prevailed at just over half the sites (53%). The Co. Wexford watch at Baginbun Head, on the HookPeninsula, had to be cancelled due to weather. But the event still produced some really good sightings with cetacean sightings at 10 of the16 sites watched (62.5%). This figure rises to 75% if we eliminate the sites with the worst weather.  In fact at two sites there were two species seen and one site, Loop Head, Co. Clare produced an impressive 3 species (bottlenose dolphins, minke whale and large baleen whale species), despite the weather being far from ideal. 

As usual there was a good mix of both Irish and overseas visitors to the watches, and for many attending, this was their first encounter with a cetacean in the wild in Irish waters.  Those attending at many of the sites were provided with expert interpretation by IWDG personnel, members and NPWS conservation rangers in Sligo and Donegal, who have vast experience regarding cetaceans and their ecology, biology and the conservation threats facing these marine mammals. An assortment of whale artifacts were on view at some sites, and there was plenty of handouts and information sheets supplied by both IWDG and Inis Cologne, the event’s sole sponsor.

IWDG are very pleased with the results of this event, and we hope that among the many who attended, there will be many new members and dedicated whale watchers who are willing to volunteer some of their time and energy in furthering our understanding of the whales and dolphins that live in Irish coastal waters.

 

A huge thanks to Inis Cologne, www.perfume.ie, for once again making this wonderful day possible.
 

 

 Key Results

  • Cetaceans seen at  10 of 16 sites= 62.5% (compares with 54% in 2011)
 
  • 4 Cetacean species seen: Hbr. porpoise, bottlenose dolphin,  minke whale & large whale sp.
  • Nothing seen at 6 sites, 1 species at 7 sites, 2 species at 2 sites & 3 species at 1 site 
 
  • Individuals seen:
    Hbr. porpoise x 33
    bottlenose dolphin x 27
    minke whale x 1
    Large whale sp. x1
 
  • Cetaceans seen at 6 of 8 sites (75%) with fair-excellent viewing conditions
 
  • No's Attending: c915
   
     

Site results

Watch location

Weather

Cetaceans seen (& other sp)

Attending

Howth Head, Dublin

Poor

BND x3, HP x6

60

Killiney Bay, Dublin

Good

HP x3

100

Bray Head, Wicklow

Fair

 

50

Baginbun Head, Wexford

Cancelled

 

ArdmoreHead, Waterford

Fair

BND x7

75

Galley Head, Cork

Poor

HP x6

120

Crow Head, Beara, Cork

Poor

 

5

Slea Head, Kerry

Poor

HP x1

55

LoopHead, Clare

Poor

BND x11, MW x1, Lg whale x1

80

Ballyreen, Fanore, Clare

Rubbish

 

30

Downpatrick Head, Mayo

Poor

 

60

Mullaghmore Head, Sligo

Poor

 

45

St. John'sPt, Donegal

Fair

BND x1, Dolphin sp. x2

50

Malin Head, Donegal

Excellent

HP x1

45

Ramore Head, Antrim

Good

 

30

Portmuck, Antrim

Fair

HP x10

45

Bloody Bridge, Down

Fair

HP x6, BND x5

62

 

 

 

 

HP=Harbour porpoise, BND= Bottlenose dolphin, MW=Minke whale


Pádraig Whooley
Sightings Co-ordinator