Partager cette page!

X

Partager cette page sur les médias sociaux:

Ireland

Passer à

La traduction française de cette page sera bientôt disponible.

Extent of whale and dolphin watching

Irish waters were designated as Europe’s first whale and dolphin sanctuary in 1991 and, to date, 25 species of cetacean have been recorded in Irish coastal and offshore waters. Ireland’s rocky cliffs provide excellent vantage points for shore-based whale watching, and for the past two decades or more boat-based whale-watching have also been offered in Ireland. However, in relation to other tourism activities in Ireland, this industry is still relatively small-scale. There are few, if any, marine tourism operators in Ireland that focus their activities on wild cetaceans alone.Throughout the country whale-watching is more frequently localised and opportunistic, depending on weather conditions and species occurrence, and is often offered as one of a number of integrated local sightseeing activities. However, an increasing number of operators are beginning to focus their activities on wild cetaceans, with dedicated whale watching trips (almost) year- round in Reen Pier, near Union Hall and Baltimore, County Cork. .

Target species, peak times of year and locations:

Existing whale-watching and dolphin-watching ventures are concentrated around the southern Irish counties particularly Counties Cork, Kerry and Clare (see map below). In two locations (i.e., Dingle Harbour, the Shannon Estuary) resident and reliably occurring coastal dolphins provide a key tourism focal point. Wildlife tourism in these two locations has been successful and more sustainable, also incorporating a focus on marine environmental education.  More detailed information on where and how to watch whales and dolphins in Ireland can be found in the table below, via the Ireland Whale and Dolphin Group's website,  Fáilte Ireland link, and on the Ireland’s Wildlife, or Europe’s Wildsea websites.  Whale watchers who want to contribute to science and conservation can also report their whale or dolphin sightings via the IWDG site here.

Retour en haut de page ↑

Species

County/region

Towns or harbours

Peak time of year to observe

Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus)

South and Southeast

Baltimore, Dunmore East, Kinsale, Kilmore Quay, Unionhall,

Autumn-Winter

Minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)

South and Southwest

Baltimore, Castletownbere, Dingle, Kinsale, Unionhall, Ventry.

Spring-Summer-Autumn

Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

Southwest, South, Southeast

Baltimore, Castletownbere, Dingle, Dunmore East, Kilmore Quay, Kinsale, Unionhall, Ventry.

Summer-Autumn-Winter

Common Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)

Southwest, West

Ballybunion, Carrigaholt, Dingle, Doolin, Kilrush.

All seasons

Short-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis)

Southwest, South, Southeast

Baltimore, Castletownbere, Dingle, Dunmore East, Kilmore Quay, Kinsale, Unionhall, Ventry.

All seasons, weather-permitting

Harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena)

Southwest, South, Southeast

Baltimore, Castletownbere, Dingle, Dunmore East, Kilmore Quay, Kinsale, Unionhall, Ventry.

All seasons, weather-permitting

Retour en haut de page ↑

Regulations and guidelines

Whale watching in Ireland is regulated and managed through both national and local guidelines. At a national level, the government has issued Guidelines for correct procedures when encountering whales and dolphins in Irish coastal waters (Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources Marine Notice No. 15 of 2005) which are designed to inform passenger vessel operators and the wider seagoing public of best practice in cases of interaction with whales, dolphins or porpoises in Irish waters. At present seagoing whale-watching tour operators are expected to follow a voluntary code of conduct that includes implementation of Marine Notice No. 15 in order to safeguard protected cetaceans from impacts arising from their commercial activity. Additional local guidelines are also operated on a voluntary basis by operators in West Cork, the Shannon Estuary, and County Clare.

The national guidelines stipulate that passenger vessels offering whale and dolphin watching tours should:

  • ensure the crew are aware of correct procedures to follow when encountering cetaceans,
  • ensure craft are suitably licensed to operate in sea areas where whales may be located. e.g. for a passenger boat with a P3 license plying limit of up to three miles offshore, P5 has a plying limit for sea area up 30 miles offshore.
  • Liase with staff of the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group for guidance prior to offering any such service to the public.

In cases of any interaction between small craft and large mammals within Irish waters the guidelines stipulate that:

  • When whales or dolphins are first encountered, craft should maintain a steady course.
  • Boat speed should be maintained below 7 knots.
  • Do not attempt to pursue whales or dolphins encountered.
  • In the case of dolphins, they will very often approach craft and may engage in “bow riding”. Always allow dolphins approach a boat rather than attempt to go after them.
  • Maintain a distance of at least 100m from whales.
  • Maintain a distance of 200m between any other boats in the vicinity.
  • Attempt to steer a course parallel to the direction whales or dolphins are taking.
  • Do not corral whales or dolphins between boats.
  • Special care must be taken when young calves are seen - do not come between a mother and her calf.
  • Successive boats must follow the same course.
  • Boats should not spend more than 30 minutes with whales or dolphins.
  • DO NOT attempt to swim with them.

Craft that do encounter any species are encouraged to log all sightings and to advise the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) or officers of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, which is a division of the Department of Culture, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht.

In addition many whale-watching tourism operators have undertaken Tour Operator training & education. This has included a Marine Wildlife Tour Operators course run at several locations to date by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, a well-networked and active NGO that supports Ireland’s whale watching industry as well as promoting research, awareness and conservation of Ireland’s cetaceans. Ireland’s statutory nature conservation authority the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht through its National Parks & Wildlife Service continues to monitor trends in the developing whale-watching industry and is enabled to take further advisory, management or regulatory action as appropriate where any significant tourism-mediated risk to cetacean populations is identified. 

Retour en haut de page ↑

Research on whale and dolphin watching in Ireland

Although little or research has directly focused on whale watching activities or their impacts in Ireland, a number of studies in the Shannon Estuary have confirmed the importance of this habitat for a resident group of bottlenose dolphins that form the focus of whale watching activities there1,2 and one paper documented the early growth of the dolphin watching industry in the late 1990s3. Other studies have shown that whales and seals may be displaced by heavy vessel traffic associated with construction activities4, findings which are applicable to tourism-related vessel traffic as well.

There have also been a few cases of solitary and social bottlenose dolphins in Ireland including the somewhat ‘famous’ Fungie in Co. Kerry and Dusty off the coast of Co. Clare. These solitary dolphins often interact with humans, and create a challenge for management, as their behaviour is not natural and can bring risks to themselves and the humans that approach them5.

Retour en haut de page ↑

Références

Afficher / Masquer les références
  1. Ingram, S.N. and E. Rogan,
  2. Foley, A., et al., Social Structure Within the Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) Population in the Shannon Estuary, Ireland. Aquatic Mammals, 2010. 36(4): p. 372-381.
  3. Berrow, S. and B. Holmes, Tour boats and dolphins: a note on quantifying the activities of whalewatching boats in the Shannon Estuary, Ireland. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management, 1999. 1(2): p. 199-204.
  4. Anderwald, P., et al., Displacement responses of a mysticete, an odontocete, and a phocid seal to construction-related vessel traffic. Endangered Species Research, 2013. 21(3): p. 231-240.
  5. Wilke, M., Bossley, M. and Doak, W. (2005) Managing Human Interactions with Solitary Dolphins. Aquatic Mammals. 31(4): 427-433. DOI 10.1578/AM.31.4.2005.427

Retour en haut de page ↑

Partager cette page!

X

Partager cette page sur les médias sociaux: