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Displaying items by tag: marine wildlife

#MARINE WILDLIFE - The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has recorded another first for the North Atlantic, with evidence showing that killer whales are feeding on ocean sunfish.

Mark Holmes of the Natural History Museum confirmed the presence of parasites unique to the sunfish found within the carcass of a female orca stranded in Doohooma in Co Mayo.

"These parasites did not originate from the whale's stomach, but came from the prey which it had eaten," said the IWDG's Conor Ryan.

"This was confirmed when the partially digested bones in the stomachs were eventually identified as those of a sunfish beak."

The discovery may explain a recent study of UK waters which found sunfish taking unusually deep dives, possibly to avoid cetaceans and other large predators.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MARINE WILDLIFE - Fears are growing of an illegal cull of marine wildlife after a seal and dolphin were discovered dead on a Waterford beach - just hours after two seals were found dying from bullet wounds in the same location.

TheJournal.ie reports that the wounds on the two animals found on Tramore Beach on Thursday are also believed to be from gunshot.

Two grey seals were euthanised the previous evening after they were discovered gravely injured with "horrific" wounds on the same beach.

A spokesperson for the Irish Seal Sanctuacy (ISS) has called for a post-mortem of the animals to determine the exact cause of death - but pointed the finger at an illegal cull allegedly carried out by local fishermen.

"We’re not against a properly regulated cull," said the ISS's Johnny Woodlock, "but it’s the guy who goes out with a shotgun and takes potshots, that’s what we’re against.”

TheJournal.ie has more on the story HERE, including an image that many may find distressing.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MARINE WILDLIFE - Newly-elected Irish President Michael D Higgins has agreed to be the sole patron of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG).

President Higgins has a long history of supporting environmental causes. In his inaugural speech he referred to Ireland’s strong cultural, scientific and technological ethos.

IWDG chairman Kevin MacCormick welcomed the President’s decision as a strong endorsement of the group’s work in protecting Ireland's marine wildlife.

He stated: “The IWDG will continue to maintain a sense of pride in our extraordinary national marine heritage and our need for stewardship of the natural environment through research, education and conservation policies.”

The IWDG is Ireland’s only conservation group dedicated to protecting whales and dolphins in Irish waters. It celebrated its 21st anniversary in December 2011.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MARINE WILDLIFE - Work on exterminating sea squirts at a marina in north Wales has begun.

The £250,000 (€301,000) project by the Countryside Council for Wales involves attaching giant bags to the subsurface structures around the marina in Holyhead, which is hoped will stop the clean flow of water to the sea squirts, causing them to suffocate and die.

Marine biologist Rohan Holt, who is managing the project, said: “If we successfully eradicate the sea squirt, we will work hard to make sure that it does not recolonise.

"This will mean careful monitoring in Holyhead marina and other marinas and popular mooring areas throughout Wales to check that it hasn’t reappeared."

The sea creature threatens shellfish by spreading like a blanket across the seabed and other surfaces.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, colonies of the invasive Japanese sea squirt are posing a throat to mussel and scallop bed in the Menai Strait between Anglesey and the mainland.

Boats from Ireland have been blamed for carrying the invasive pest into Holyhead.

The Daily Post has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MARINE WILDLIFE - TED have posted video of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group's Dr Simon Berrow giving a talk on the biggest fish in Ireland's waters, the mysterious basking shark.

The second largest fish in the world, basking sharks are almost extinct, and we know almost nothing about them.

But despite their huge size, we do know that they are among the friendlies of Ireland's marine wildlife.

Recorded at the TEDxDublin event at Dublin's Science Gallery in December 2010, the video above shows Dr Berrow describing the fascinating creature (known as the 'Great Fish of the Sun' in Irish) and the surprisingly low-tech methods he's employing in learning all he can to save them.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MARINE WILDLIFE - The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group has confirmed the sighting of a humpback whale off Achill Island in Co Mayo last weekend.

Surfers off Keel Beach were credited with the discovery, after spotting a large whale of 30-60ft breaking the surface multiple times, lifting its tail fluke vertically.

The sighting is only the fifth validated record of a humpback whale off the coastal area from Galway to Donegal.

"It remains something of a mystery as to why sightings of this species remain such relatively rare events along our west and northwest compared to our south and southwest coasts," says IWDG sightings co-ordinator Pádraig Whooley.

"This latest sighting is a timely reminder that species such as humpbacks can and do turn up in places that are well outside what we perceive to be the known 'hotspots'."

Humpback whales tend to feed in inshore waters, which should make them increasingly easier for the public to spot from the shore, he added.

The IWDG has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#COASTAL NOTES - BBC News reports that construction has begun on a new observation tower on the Lancashire coastline with views over the Irish Sea.

The new tower at Rossall Point, which will reach 14 metres (46ft) upon completion, will act as a base for the UK's National Coastwatch Institution.

A platform at the top will be open to the public providing ample vistas of the Irish Sea's marine wildlife for birdwatchers and more, while the view from the top will also be projected on a screen in the education centre to be located in the tower's ground floor.

Published in Coastal Notes

#DALKEY ISLAND PROSPECT - The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has joined the chorus of opposition to the proposed oil and gas exploration off Dalkey Island in Co Dublin.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Providence Resources has applied for a foreshore licence to search for oil or gas about 6km out to sea on the Kish Bank Basin.

But the prospect has provoked a split in the local community over the potential risks and benefits, with many calling for a public enquiry into the licence before it is granted.

This evening an urgent meeting in Dun Laoghaire will address the public's concerns, which have been echoed by the IWDG.

"The Kish Bank and adjacent waters are important for cetaceans," said the group in a statement. "In addition, sightings of bottlenose dolphins have increased dramatically in the area following the presence of a group of three individuals since August 2010."

The IWDG is concerned about the potential effects on dolphins and porpoises that "could due to noise generated from the drilling process", noting that "there is little published data on the intensity and effects of sound generated by drilling".

Protest group Protect Our Coast has launched a online petition against the Dalkey Island Prospect citing concerns over the proximity of the drilling area to the mainland as well as the Special Protection Area of Dalkey Island, which is a haven for marine wildlife.

Published in Coastal Notes

#MARINE WILDLIFE - The UK's Wildlife Trusts have launched a new website in an effort to redress the idea that the Irish Sea is "a dirty, lifeless" place.

As BBC News reports, the trusts' Cheryl Nicholson put down the Irish Sea's poor image, saying "nothing could be further from the truth".

"Our sea is home to so many amazing species and habitats," she added, "but sadly, after centuries of neglect, it is not in a good state. We must act now to protect the Irish Sea from the depths through to the coastal shallows."

The new website is part of a campaign by wildlife trusts throughout northwest England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man to establish 15 Marine Conservation Zones recommended for the area.

The zones, if officially designated, would provide "a haven for wildlife to recover and thrive", said Nicholson.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, plans to establish such zones in the Irish Sea have been shelved till 2013 at the earliest after pressure from fishermen, boaters and other groups.

BBC News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#TALL SHIPS - The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has secured three-quarters of the funding it required to refit its research vessel Celtic Mist.

According to The Irish Times, the Clare Local Development Company has approved the allocation of a €48,000 grant towards the refurbishment of the ketch.

The work will be carried out by Cathal Blunnie and several sub-contractors, and involves stripping down the main cabin and removing the bath and shower to increase space for crew berths.

While the ship's clock will be retained, the ship’s wheel in the main cabin will be removed and presented to the Haughey family as a gesture of appreciation.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the 52-foot yacht - which was gifted by the Haughey family to the IWDG to assist in its marine wildlife conservation work - entered dry dock last November in preparation for the refit work, after relocating to its new berth at Kilrush, Co Clare in July.

This followed its last jaunt at sea in its former guise, completing a leg of the Tall Ships Races from Waterford to Greenock in Scotland.

The cost of refurbishing the yacht for research and training purposes is expected to top €60,000, with an annual running cost of some €20,000, for which the IWDG is seeking ongoing financial assistance.

The group aims to get the Celtic Mist back at sea before the summer.

Published in Tall Ships
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