Republic of Ireland
The Republic of Ireland is one of twelve EU Member States without dolphins in captivity.
In Ireland there are many opportunities to view wild dolphins, particularly off the west and southern coastlines. Commercial whale and dolphin watching in Ireland has taken off in recent years, but the country is also famous for a number of solitary dolphins, including "Fungi" or "Dingle Dolphin" who has been appearing in Dingle Harbour since 1984. He has become an important tourist attraction with visitors coming to see and swim with him.
While WDCS understands the desire to swim with cetaceans in the wild, we would like to take this opportunity to explain the risks involved. It can be difficult to ensure the encounters take place on the whales and dolphins’ terms without being harassed and repeatedly disturbed by swimmers. Safety of both the cetacean and the swimmer is also an important concern as whales and dolphins are very powerful and are capable of injuring people in the water. On the other hand, it is possible for humans to injure and scratch the extremely sensitive and delicate skin of cetaceans. A two-way disease transmission can also be possible. Solitary whales and dolphins can become habituated to humans, putting them in further danger of harassment or injury.
The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group is dedicated to the conservation of whales and dolphins in Irish waters. The Shannon Dolphin and Whale Foundation provides educational awareness and improves conservation of dolphins and other marine life in the Shannon Estuary.
Ireland is a member of the IWC (International Whaling Commission) and has been since 1985. Dolphinaria in Ireland are included in national zoo law. However, there are no specific standards for the keeping of these animals in captivity.