Results of Whale Watch Ireland 2015

1st Sep 2015

On Sunday 23rd August the Irish Whale & Dolphin Group delivered Whale Watch Ireland 2015. This All–Ireland Whale Watch day comprised free, guided whale watches at 20 sites throughout the country.

This event now in its 15th year is one of the largest events on the Irish wildlife calendar and was attended by 850 whale watchers and visitors alike at 20 sites, spread out over 13 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 as wide an audience as possible. 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 successful recording schemes, which encourage members of the public to report sightings and strandings to the IWDG.

Mixed weather prevailed at 30% of the sites, but the event still managed to produce sightings at 15 of the 20 sites watched (75%). This figure rises to 82% if we eliminate the sites with the worst weather. Malin Head in Co. Donegal produced sightings of an impressive three species (bottlenose dolphins, minke whale and basking sharks). Grey seals were also recorded at many of the sites.

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 interpretation by IWDG personnel, 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:

  • Overall, cetaceans seen at 15 of 20 sites= 75%
  • Cetaceans seen at 14 of 17 sites (82%) with reasonable viewing conditions
  • Number species recorded (6): harbour porpoise, common dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, minke whale, humpback whale and basking sharks.
  • Zero species at 5 sites, 1 species at 11 sites, 2 species at 3 sites, 3 species at 1 site
  • Numbers of animals recorded: harbour porpoise x 51, common dolphin x 25, bottlenose dolphin 50+, minke whale x 2, humpback whale x2, basking shark x15
  • Attendance: 850 (16% increase on 2014)

By Pádraig Whooley, IWDG

Event co-ordinator, Whale Watch Ireland 2015