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

Whale Watching in West Cork

fin whale, © Pádraig Whooley, IWDG

Year after year minke whales, fin whales, and humpback whales return along with several species of dolphins to feed in West Cork's rich waters.

Minke whales are the first to return in spring and feed here until December.  During the summer they are joined by the fin whales, returning from their winter breeding grounds.  Weighing in at seventy tons, they are the world’s second largest animal.  

Colin'slocal recording efforts have contributed significantly to the Irish fin whale catalogue over the last ten years, this unique resource now contains 41 known individuals.

Humpback whales may be seen at any time between summer and winter months. They are

humpback whale, © Pádraig Whooley, IWDG

perhaps the most popular species amongst whale watchers due to their elaborate behavioural repetoire. Colin's work has also made a significant contribution to the Irish Humpback whale catalogue http://www.iwdg.ie/iscope/sightings/photoID.asp?species=2103

One humpback, first observed from the ‘Holly Jo’in 2001, named ‘Boomerang,’ has returned to the same West Cork waters in seven of the last eight years (2001 - 2008). Boomerang is easily recognisable by his damaged dorsal fin and the unique pattern on the ventral surface of his tail fluke.

dolphins west cork, © Pádraig Whooley, IWDG


Common dolphins are as the name suggest are the most frequently cetacean observed in summer, autumn and winter, often in large groups with their calves.

The harbour porpoise is also a commonly observed small cetacean in West Cork. Bottlenose dolphins are occasionally seen. Every year brings occassional visits from Risso’s and Atlantic white-sided dolphins.