Whale Watch Ireland 2016 results summary

31st Aug 2016

Bray Head, Co WicklowOn Saturday 27th August the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group delivered Whale Watch Ireland 2016. This All–Ireland Whale Watch day comprised free, guided whale watches at 20 sites throughout the country.

This event now in its 16th year is one of the largest events on the Irish wildlife calendar and was attended by C. 1,120 whale watchers and visitors alike, 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 25 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 a better than average 20% of the sites, and this year’s event still produced sightings at 13 of the 20 sites watched (65%). This figure rises to 72% if we eliminate the sites with the worst weather. Clogher Head, Co. Kerry produced an all- time record for this event, of an impressive five species (fin, humpback & minke whales, common dolphins and harbour porpoises. Grey seals were also recorded at many of the sites and even basking shark and blue fin tuna (Bloodyforeland, Co. Donegal).

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.

Key Results:

• Overall, cetaceans seen at 13 of 20 sites= 65%
• Cetaceans seen at 13 of 18 sites (72%) with viewing conditions
• 8 species recorded: harbour porpoise, common dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, Risso’s dolphin, minke whale, humpback whale, fin whale & basking shark.
• Zero species at 7 sites, 1 species at 9 sites, 2 species at 1 sites, 3 species at 2 site & 5 species at 1
• Number of animals recorded: harbour porpoise x 54, common dolphin x 109, bottlenose dolphin 11, Risso’s dolphin x4, minke whale x 6, humpback whale x6, fin whale x3, basking shark x1
• Attendance: 1,120 (32% increase on 2015)

Congratulations to Nick Massett and the team at Clogher Head, Co. Kerry who get bragging rights this year with an amazing species diversity which included the trio of baleen whales (minke, fin and humpbacks) as well as large numbers of common dolphins and porpoises (see images)



Thanks again to Inis in Co. Wicklow for their continued support for this years event and to all 20 of the watch leaders for taking on the

challenge of leading the local events. Details of Whale Watch Ireland 2017 will be made available once available.

Images from top

Bray Head, Co. Wicklow lead by Justin Ivory

Introduction and welcome at Galley Head, Co Cork

Fin whales blowing off Clogher Head, Co. Kerry


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