Whale Watch Ireland 2017 Results

31st Aug 2017

On Saturday 26th August the Irish Whale & Dolphin Group delivered Whale Watch Ireland 2017. This All–Ireland Whale Watch day comprised free, guided land based whale watches at 20 sites throughout the country. Now in its 17th year, this is one of the largest events on the Irish wildlife calendar and was attended by C.1,300 whale watchers, wildlife entusiasts and visitors at 20 sites, spread over 14 counties, in all four provinces. 

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 Whale Watch Ireland 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.

The success or otherwise of this outdoor event is largely determined by the prevailing weather on the day, and thankfully most sites were treated to calm seas and clear skies which resulted in sightings at an impressive 75% of the 20 sites covered. Loop Head in Co. Clare enjoyed the highest tally of species, with an impressive list of five species recorded in just 3 hours; these included: humpback whales, minke whales, common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoises. Other species of marine megafauna recorded on the day included Risso’s dolphins, blue fin tuna, ocean sunfish and grey seals.

For the full list of watch results, see table below.

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, The energy of the Sea the event’s sponsor www.inisfragrance.com

We are very pleased with the results of this years event, and we hope that among those who attended, there will be some new members for IWDG 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.

From all of us in IWDG, we extend a huge thanks to all in Inis in Wicklow for once again making this wonderful day possible.


   Whale Watch Ireland 2017 Results Summary
  Watch location Weather  Cetaceans seen Species Attendance
1 Clogher Head, Louth Very Good HPx5,  1 55
2 Howth Head, North Dublin Excellent HPx4-5 1 70
3 Killiney Bay, South Dublin Good HPx7,  1 70
4 Bray Head, Wicklow Good   0 30
5 Wicklow Hd, Wicklow Excellent   0 50
6 Hook Head, Wexford Excellent   0 25
7 Ardmore Head, Waterford Excellent   0 110
8 Galley Head, West Cork  Good MWx2, CDx10, HPx7,  3 225
9 Lehanemore, Beara Fair CDx15 1 20
10 Bray Head, Valentia Isl., Kerry Excellent MXx4, RDx5-6, Dolphin Sp x2 3 80
11 Clogher Head, Kerry Good HBWx1, MWx4, CDx30, HPx9 4 45
12 Loop Head, Clare  Excellent HBWx2, MWx5, BNDx6, CDx50, HPx2 5 120
13 Black Head, Clare Excellent CDx7, HPx6 2 50
14 Downpatrick Hd, Mayo Fair CDx4 1 40
15 Mullaghmore Head, Sligo  Fair   0 75
16 Bloody Foreland, Donegal Fair HPx3 1 65
17 Inishowen Head, Donegal Excellent Dolphin Sp. X1, HPx2 2 60
18 Portstewart Head, Derry Good HPx3 1 27
19 Portmuck, Antrim Good HPx25 1 23
20 Bloody Bridge, Down Excellent MWx1, HPx20 2 60




1.  Overall, sightings at  15 of 20 sites = 75% (compares with 65% in 2016)            
2   Cetacean species recorded (6): harbour porpoise, common, bottlenose & Risso's dolphin, minke whales & humpback whales 
3.  Zero species at 5 sites, 1 species at 8 sites, 2 sp. at 3 sites, 3 sp. at 2 sites, 4 sp. at 1 site & 5 sp. at 1 site (Loop Head, Co. Clare)          
4.  Other species: Sunfish (1), Bluefin Tuna (2) and Grey seals             
5.  individuals: h. porpoise x 74, common dolp. x 116, bottlenose dolp. x 6, Risso's Dolp. x5, minke whale x16, humpback whale x3     
6.  Attendance: 1,300 (15.8% increase on 2016)            


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