whales west cork
recent sightings of whales and dolphins, © Pádraig Whooley, IWDG
book your west cork whale watching trip, © Pádraig Whooley, IWDG
amazing gallery of photgraphs, © Mike Brown Photography

Testimonials & Media

I stopped counting when I got to 37 dolphins. The jumping, diving, jostling pod had surrounded our catamaran like a gang of silver grey muggers, but my attention had been sidetracked by two bulky, menacing shapes to the left of the group......

Ian Belcher, The Guardian

A giant head broke the surface and a plume of spray erupted seven metres into the air. The head was followed by the graceful arch of an enormous back and, several seconds later, by a small curved dorsal fin...

Calvin Jones. The Countryman

read more here
marine life in west cork waters, © Ian Slevin
For more information: call 028-36832/086 3273226

Meet Colin Barnes

colin barnes


I began fishing in UK waters in 1967 and continued until 1972, when I moved to Ireland.  I have spent the last thirty five years on the seas off West Cork, both making my living and continuing a lifetime’s study of the area.  For most of these years, I was engaged in commercial fishing, with intervals of charter angling, diving trips, scientific and topographical surveys, and more recently, eco-tourism trips.

I have kept records of all activities:  fish stocks; weather; plankton levels; sea temperatures; from 1973 to the current day.  Using sonics and electronic navigation, I have explored, fished and mapped 2,500 square miles of the sea bed off West Cork.  All the fishing I carried out deployed selective, passive gear, i.e., pots, gillnet and longlines, aimed at selected species, with no bycatch or discards, waste or damage to the sea bed.

colin barnes

In the year 2001, I gave up commercial fishing to move into eco-tourism, with whale and dolphin watching as my main activity.  After seven years, I now have extensive records of whale, dolphin and porpoise sightings, taken all year round, which provide more than enough proof of the importance of this area to cetaceans.  The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group have similar and more, with their committed membership of whale watchers along the coastline.  During these seven years I have collaborated with television wildlife productions including ‘Wild Trials’ with Ray D’Arcy and Mike Brown,  Tony Whelan’s ‘In Search of the Irish Humpback,’ Tom McSweeney’s maritime news reports and most recently Colin Stafford-Johnson’s ‘Living the Wildlife,’ a RTE1 series currently being screened on Tuesdays. 

Since 2000, I have worked closely with the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, assisting with scientific surveys, collaborating with their Irish-based events, working to develop recommendations for responsible WHALE WATCHing in maritime eco-tourism, and have co-authorship of ‘Photo-Identification of fin and humpback whales off the south coast of Ireland,’ just published this year.


Year after year, my passengers, many of whom have travelled the world for cetacean sightings, are astonished by the quantity and variety of whales and dolphins which we encounter June through to February.  International whale watch specialists have declared the cetacean activity in the coastal waters of West Cork to be of global quality.

Colin Barnes