Although whales can be been seen throughout the year, the most frequent sightings occur now in late summer and autumn when they come to their seasonal feeding grounds.
And the Irish coast is an ideal feeding area for these gentle giants, located midway on their journey as many migrate across the Atlantic between Western Africa and Northern Scandinavia.
This Saturday is All Ireland Whale Watch day (August 26th) and it’s being organised by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) as part of National Heritage Week. The day provides a fantastic opportunity to head to the coast and see some of the largest creatures to ever roam the earth including Fin and Humpback whales as well as the 23 other species of cetaceans (whales, dolphins, porpoises) that have been recorded in Irish waters
Whale watches will be taking place at 20 locations around the coast. Check the image below for a full list to see where you can contribute as a citizen scientist and help us all understand these amazing creatures a little better.
A playground and a sanctuary for cetaceans
Ireland provides a rich feeding ground for whales and a safe place to roam ever since it was declared a Whale and Dolphin Sanctuary – the first of it’s kind in Europe – on the 7th of June 1991. Cetaceans feed on huge numbers of sprat and herring sometimes working together with other whales or dolphins to herd their prey into a feeding frenzy. Onlookers can sometimes bear witness to some of their more amazing feeding spectacles such as bubble netting. This is where the whales generate a surrounding column of bubbles to trap their prey, then lunge through it engulfing the contents in their open mouths.
The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) is organising the land-based whale watches and it will be led by experienced IWDG researchers and experienced whale watchers who will show participants how to observe and identify some of the more commonly recorded cetacean species in our waters.
The IWDG are dedicated to the preservation and better understanding of these special creatures. They do that through research, education and monitoring the movements of these marine mammals. By participating in this event you will be helping to provide IWDG researchers with a unique snapshot of whale and dolphin activity around the Irish coast.
- All Island Whale Watch day on Saturday, August 27.
- All watches are land-based (no boats involved)
- Takes place between 2pm and 5pm
- No guarantee that the whales or dolphins will make an appearance but last year’s event saw whales or dolphins recorded at 15 of 20 sites (75 percent).
- Whale watchers are asked to bring binoculars and dress appropriately for outdoor weather conditions.
For a full list of details and more information, see the Irish Whale and Dolphin website.