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Dolphin and whale watching in Ireland


Ireland whale and dolphin news

Ireland is, perhaps surprisingly, now one of the best places to see whales in Europe. The South West coast is building a strong reputation as a dependable, and beautiful, location to see whales, as well as dolphins and seals.

Bottlenose dolphin, West Cork, Ireland. © Nic Slocum, Whale Watch West Cork.Minke whales are most commonly spotted, from spring to late autumn, and Humpback whale spottings are usually from mid August to late autumn. Fin whales can often be spotted in summer, autumn and winter months.

Dolphin watching is available all year round, and Bottlenose and Common dolphins are often seen, as well as occasional Risso’s and White sided dolphins and Harbour porpoises.

Common and Grey seals are resident year round, Leatherback turtles make occasional visits and a huge variety of birdlife can be seen too.

Fungi the dolphin
Beautiful though he is, quite why so many people travel to Dingle to see a solitary dolphin when large pods can be seen off the coast, particularly of West Cork, is a mystery. Fungie, a mature Bottlenose dolphin, lives alone off Dingle and often goes to meet the boats that are looking for him.

However join one of the dolphin and whale watch boats in Cork, and you can expect to see several pods of dolphins, grey seals, harbour porpoises and, with luck, a whale or two as well.

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Recommended operators.

We saw dozens of dolphins as well as seals, sea birds and two Minke whales when we sailed with Whale Watch West Cork, run by zoologist Nic Slocum. Nic is a great, knowledgeable and sympathetic guide, and an amazing 'spotter.' Click here to go to his website, or call him in Ireland on (00 353) 28 33357.

Also try Blasket Islands Ferry, who run whale and wildlife watching trips off the west coast.


The IWDG was established in 1990 to co-ordinate the All-Ireland cetacean sighting and stranding scheme, aimed at encouraging cetacean reporting by the public. Current membership of c1,000 reflects a broad spectrum of people from throughout Ireland who share our interest in cetacean conservation. The Irish database contains in excess of 11,000 validated sightings and 1,500 strandings all of which are available on http://www.iwdg.ie./

This unique facility also contains species profiles on all 24 cetaceans species recorded in Irish waters and the entire fin and humpback whale photo identification catalogues of 41 fin and 7 humpback whales. This resource is updated daily as the latest cetacean sightings and strandings occur, and also includes regular articles on other marine species such as basking sharks and leatherback turtles.

For those interested in learning more about whales and dolphins, and how to observe, identify and record them in Irish waters, our comprehensive EVENTS section lists upcoming workshops as well as our popular Whale Watching Weekend Courses on Cape Clear Island, Co. Cork.

Fin whales off West Cork, Ireland. © Nic Slocum, Whale watch West Cork.