You don’t necessarily have to go out on the water to have great sightings of whales, dolphins and porpoises in Ireland. A headland in good weather (with light winds and calm seas) can work just as well, especially when you have a pair of good binoculars or a spotting scope to hand. Sometimes you can get really lucky and animals may appear just below the cliffs you decide to watch from, but more often than not, you will have to scan the sea using
your binoculars or spotting scope, to reveal signs that may indicate the presence of animals, such as, feeding seabirds, splashes or a whale’s blow shooting up from the sea. Land-based whale watching is really about patience, the more time you put in, the more likely you will be rewarded with a special sighting of common or rare species which contributes to our understanding of these animals.
How to do
The Irish coast from Dublin to Donegal or Down to Antrim offers many locations where you can watch dolphins, porpoises and even whales from. While sightings appear to be reported from the same locations, it does not mean that animals will not appear in your local stretch of coastline. These sightings just reflect the effort local people are putting into watches in that particular area. Galley Head in West Cork and Ram Head in Waterford are great spots to watch from in the winter when fin whales move inshore to feed, while West Kerry is a good area to see humpback whales during the summer.
Dublin Bay is a great area to see harbour porpoise, you might even see some while on the DART! Loop Head, Co Clare is the best spot to see bottlenose dolphins, but dolphins may turn up anywhere at any time.
So, no matter where you are, along our coast you are never too far away from our animals.
Do you know what might be occurring off your local headland ? It might be something pretty exciting and new to all of us.