Whale Watch West Cork
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About our Tours
Our tours depart from Baltimore Harbour at 9.30am and 2.15pm daily aboard our boats, Voyager and Liscannor Star. Sunrise and sunset tours by arrangement. We are out for between four and five hours as we stop at Cape Clear Island for refreshments half way through the tour. Cape Clear is Ireland's most southerly community and part of the Gaeltacht where the Irish language is spoken on a daily basis. Baltimore is a small, but stunningly pretty fishing village situated far down in the southwest of Ireland. Baltimore is the departure point for the ferries to the the islands of Roaringwater Bay. Our boats are twin enginned catamarans purpose built for wildlife watching and have state of the art safety and navigational equipment on board. With covered wheelhouses and marine toilets customer comfort is assured. We remain in hourly contact with our shore base and our Captains are fully qualified with Department of Transport passenger boat licenses and proficiency certificates in safety at sea and first aid.
Our season in southwest Ireland is long with different species being seen during different months of the year. Minke whales are the first baleen whales to arrive in April and can be seen throughout the Spring, Summer and Autumn months. Fin whales and humpbacks traditionally arrive during the last quarter of the year. Short beaked common dolphins and harbour porpoises may be seen through the season into the autumn with Risso's dolphins and bottlenose dolphins being less frequent visitors. Many pelagic bird species including Manx, Great and Cory's shearwaters and storm and Wilson's petrels may be seen offshore. One of the early season highlights for many of our guests are the amazing basking sharks that trawl these clear waters in search of the plankton blooms during late April through early June. The unique Atlantic sunfish may be seen during the high summer months of July and August. In addition to the wildlife encountered our tours will take you past the islands and inlets and ruined tower castles that abound along this part of the West Cork coastline. Your Captains and guides will keep you entertained with anecdotes and stories about the history and geography of this fascinating area.
Leading the way in Responsible whale and dolphin watching
As one of West Cork's leading whale and dolphin watching operations, Whale Watch West Cork is committed to an accreditation protocol, which dictates that all boat operators should be properly trained to conduct marine wildlife tours in order to maximize the opportunities for customers whilst minimising potential pressure on the animals and habitats being viewed. All our skippers are fully trained and boats licensed to conduct marine wildlife tours. We will never pressurize wildlife and operate a "leave no trace" policy.
Nic Slocum and Whale Watch West Cork were founder members of the Responsible Whale Watching Initiative which was later assimilated into the World Cetacean Alliance. They were the first company in Ireland to create a detailed Code of Conduct for boat based whale and dolphin watching right down to the species level. This 12 point Code of Conduct has now been voluntarily been adopted by three other operators along the south coast.
Our Responsible Whale and Dolphin Watching Mantra
1) The animals must come first. When we are engaged in whale and dolphin watching no action is taken that may impact their ability to communicate, feed or socially interact. If at anytime we are seeing avoidance reaction we withdraw immediately.
2) Our guests needs are paramount. At all times we will try to ensure that all our guests have a safe, educational and enjoyable tour. We take great care to monitor sea conditions and cancel participation if conditions are deemed to be to unsuitable for running the tour. Our Captains and guides will conduct a commentary on every aspect of the tour from the wildlife we are watching to the history of the islands we pass during a tour.
3) The enjoyment of customers on other boats is vital. If we are conducting whale and dolphin watching activities in the company of other boats it is equally important to us that their guests have a good experience as well as our own. If we find we are blocking the view in any way we withdraw carefully so as not to disturb animals and enhance the experience for all others viewing.
Video from Whale Watch West Cork: