Harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena)

Reaching a maximum length of around 1.9 metres, the diminutive harbour porpoise (also known as the common porpoise) is Ireland’s smallest cetacean species and our only species of porpoise. Found right around the Irish coastline, it is one of the most widely distributed cetaceans (whales and dolphins) in the northern hemisphere. Average sizes are smaller, with […]

Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)

The red squirrel is Ireland’s only native squirrel, and perhaps the cutest member of the rodent family. This endearing little tree-dweller, with its characteristic bushy tail and ear-tufts, thrived in the large forests of Scots pine that were common in Ireland after the last ice age. In time these Scots pine forests dwindled and were […]

Red Deer (Cervus elaphus)

In late September and early October the signature roar of red deer stags (males) echoes around the woods and mountains of Killarney National Park in Co. Kerry, signalling the start of the autumn rut. Our only native deer, the red deer was once common throughout the country, but a combination of excessive hunting and habitat […]

Grey Seal (Halichoerus grypus)

When it was made the world’s first officially protected species in 1914 the future looked bleak for the grey seal. The turnaround since then represents perhaps the most successful conservation story in history, and offers hope that efforts to save many of our endangered species may not be in vain. Since their protection grey seal […]

European Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus)

Originally from south-west Europe and north-west Africa, Rabbits were introduced into Ireland by the Normans way back in the 12th century AD. They were kept in enclosed warrens and were used as a source of sport for Norman noblemen as well as exploited as a source of both meat and fur. Naturally enough some of […]

Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncates)

Of the 24 species of whales and dolphins found in Irish waters perhaps the best known is the familiar bottlenose dolphin made famous in the ‘60s television show, Flipper. Almost all of the dolphin stars of film and television over the years, and the captive performing dolphins in theme parks around the world, are bottlenose […]

Pine Marten (Martes martes)

The secretive and elusive pine marten was once found throughout Ireland, but a combination of habitat destruction, hunting for their skins and persecution by gamekeepers during the early part of the 20th century meant that by the 1950’s few martens survived. These days pine martens are protected and their fortunes are improving. Numbers are increasing […]

Otter (Lutra lutra)

Ireland is considered to have the healthiest otter population in Europe. Surveys show that otters are present in more than ninety percent of our inland waterways and coastal waters. The species, already extinct over much of its former range, is listed as “vulnerable to extinction” by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) […]

Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

Humpback whales are regular visitors to Ireland’s south and east coasts. These magnificent whales begin to appear around early September each year, and spend several months in the area before moving on to their winter breeding grounds. They are also occasionally sighted elsewhere around the Irish coast. Adult humpbacks are large, thick-set whales that typically […]

Common Dolphin (Delphinus delphis)

The common dolphin is regularly encountered around the Irish coast. As its name suggests this is one of the most abundant and widely distributed dolphin species in the world, and occurs in all tropical, sub-tropical and temperate waters with average surface temperatures above 10°C. They are often seen in large schools that can consist of […]

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