Dolphinwatch FAQ
Dolphinwatch FAQ
 

Dolphinwatch

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I book? It is recommended to make a reservation. We accept bookings by telephone or by email. We are open from 9 am-6 pm. Advanced bookings are advisable.

What is our time schedule?
We do not have a set daily schedule, due to the fact that we are watching nature in nature. There are many factors we must take into consideration before deciding on the best times for trips each day. We think about the sea conditions, the tides, the weather and the demand. We set each day's schedule the day before and then confirm it with you on the day.

Is the trip suitable for small children?

You are the best judge of your child as to how much they will get out of the trip. 2 hours (or more and sometimes much more) can be a long time for the parent of a toddler exploring their sea legs and for other passengers enduring unhappy little ones. We have a few basic rules for children while on board for their safety and the comfort of other passengers, which are outlined at the beginning of the trip. We decide whether small children are allowed on board given the sea conditions and length of trip.

Is this trip universally accessible for all?
At the pier where we dock, we are subject to the rise and fall of the tide - sometimes by 5.5 metres. Boat access is either down stone steps or along an angled gangway on an upper level. Please discuss your requirements with the staff & look at the boarding procedures before making your booking. If you are a wheelchair user, a non-electric chair can be lifted onto the vessel by the crew. The lavatory is not wheelchair friendly.

Can I bring my dog(s)?
Afraid not - BUT there is a doggie sitter available so you can pre-arrange to have your dogs looked after while you enjoy the trip guilt free by calling Sara on 087 454 6657.

What kind of dolphins will I see?
The dolphins that are resident at the mouth of the Shannon are Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops Truncatus). Other famous bottlenose dolphins are Fungi, in Dingle, Co. Kerry and Flipper of Hollywood fame. The dolphins here are a breeding group, so you are likely to see calves within small family groups.

Can I swim with the dolphins?
No. Apart from the fact that this is an extremely strong tidal area & a shipping lane, the dolphins are protected under a Code of Conduct from any invasive behaviour. Also, I might add, that these bottlenose are some of the biggest in the world: weighing 800 lbs. and growing to 14 ft. long.


What else will I see on the trip?
This Special Area of Conservation is home to about 200 dolphins, as well as, grey seals, gannets, guillemots, razorbills, choughs and peregrine falcons; even a herd of wild goats. The coastal scenery west of Carrigaholt is spectacular and the geology of the cliffs is world famous. Some of the natural heritage sights include Carrigaholt's 15th century Tower House, a Napoleonic fort, 9th century church and a 14th century peel tower.

Is there a best time to see dolphins?
The dolphins live in the Shannon Estuary all year round. We are experienced in their patterns of behaviour and are able to predict where they should be at different times of the tide throughout the season. Tides and sea conditions dictate many aspects of our trips, and we endeavour to make your trip the best it can be. It is extremely rare for us not to have dolphin encounters.

Am I guaranteed to see dolphins?
They are wild animals so we cannot guarantee that they will be where they "should" be or weather conditions may not allow us to travel to an area where they are most likely to be. However, we are familiar with the dolphins' patterns of behaviour and our success rate of dolphin encounters exceeds 98%, so it is unusual not to see them. We do not go out unless we intend to meet dolphins.

Are life jackets provided?

Life jackets are part of our safety equipment and are for emergency use only. This is the rule, set out by the Department of Transport, that we must follow for Class VI Passenger Vessels. There are lifejackets for every passenger in the unlikely event that there is an emergency. However, if you would feel more comfortable wearing a jacket, you are free to bring your own life jackets on board. The gunwales (rails) are 1 metre high and we have a very watchful crew. Parents are responsible for their own children's behaviour and safety.

Is there food served on board?
We have a small snack bar serving hot drinks, tap water and snacks. All our drinks and snacks are organic and fair trade. The drinks containers are recyclable or compostable. You are also more than welcome to bring your own refreshments on board with you.  If you require water while out on the trip, we serve it from glass bottles into recyclable paper cups.

Is there a toilet?
There are toilet facilities both on board the boat and in our Booking Office.

What if the weather or sea conditions aren't suitable and my trip is cancelled?
You will get a full refund and we will try to re-schedule you.

Will the trip be cancelled if it's raining?
Rain doesn't effect us. In fact this is a GREAT activity to do in the rain. Seriously. There is a large cabin and the walkways are covered. And, of course, the dolphins don't mind getting wet!

Will I get seasick?
If you are prone to motion sickness, or think you might be, we strongly suggest that you visit a pharmacist and get their advice before the trip. If you are worried about seasickness, please ask us what the conditons are like on the day of your trip. We are very honest about sea conditions and we will let you know if another day would be more suitable for you. We don't want unhappy passengers!

What is our season, when do we run our trips?
Our season starts in April and runs through October. During the off-peak, we are subject to passenger demand and sea conditions. During the peak (July & August) we run up to 4 trips a day.

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