Whale watching in Ireland and whale watching in West Cork in particular has now reached a high point for whale and dolphin watching enthusiasts the world over. The Irish government declared the coastal waters of Ireland a whale and dolphin sanctuary during the early 1990’s. The first of its kind in Europe, this paved the way for whale watching in Ireland to become a prime activity for the many visitors to this country. Coastal waters off the southwest of Ireland are a summer feeding ground for a number of whale species and a year round home for several resident dolphin species including the Harbour Porpoise. Baleen Whales commonly seen off the south coast include Fin Whales and Minke Whales, which makes whale watching in Ireland some of the best whale watching in Europe. Humpback whales are also seen off the southwest coast. These large marine mammals feed in Irish waters for over seven months of the year on a variety of small shoaling fish and may be seen just a few kilometers offshore.