THE proposal to establish a Whale and Dolphin Trail could have the potential to put West Cork on the worldwide tourism map for whale and dolphin watching.
Details of the proposal were outlined to councillors by Louise Duffy, head of economic development, at a meeting of Cork County Council this week.
The Council is currently working with Fáilte Ireland and the Irish Whale & Dolphin Group (IWDG) to establish a Whale/ Dolphin Trail at key locations throughout the county.
This will include the development of interpretative panels and a detailed brochure. Among the suggested locations for these interpretive panels are the Old Head of Kinsale, Clonakilty, Galley Head, Baltimore, Mizen Head and Dursey Island.
Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) welcomed the announcement as he initiated the project at the Council’s Tourism Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) last year.
‘A lot of people might think this is trivial, but it’s a huge tourism attraction around the world and whale watching in Co Cork is the best in Europe. It’s about time we realised this as it could have huge economic impact for the region,’ said Cllr O’Sullivan.
The idea came after lengthy discussions with Padraic Whooley of the IWDG in West Cork, who has envisaged a whale trail around the island of Ireland for quite a while now. Whale watching is a big tourism draw in countries like Canada and Australia. West Cork in particular has a huge opportunity to get a slice of this pie and to benefit from the growing interest in marine wildlife and the region needs to capitalise on this growing reputation, he said.
There have been increased sightings of both humpback and fin whales in West Cork waters in recent years, which have also garnered international media attention.
‘Tourists can enjoy quality whale watching in West Cork from July to December and there are whale watching providers operating throughout the county who are experts at bringing people up close and personal with these giants of the ocean,’ said the Cllr.