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Displaying items by tag: Cetaceans

#MARINE WILDLIFE - Large numbers of dolphins have been filmed in the Irish Sea off the Welsh coast by wildlife volunteers, as WalesOnline reports.

The conservationists with the Sea Trust charity, based in Pembrokeshire, recorded the "dolphin-fest" from the deck of the Stena Europe ferry en route from Fishguard to Rosslare.

Sea Trust director Cliff Benson confirmed the sighting of "a pod of eight Risso's dolphins, 40-plus common dolphins [and] four porpoises" among others as soon as the ferry headed west of Tusker Rock.

Altogether in the three-hour passage across the Irish Sea, the volunteer surveyors recorded a total of 99 common dolphins, 10 Risso's dolphins and 26 harbour porpoises. "That's not bad for a winter trip," said Benson.

He added that while there are threats to the Irish Sea's cetaceans from scallop dredging and the like, "to date our surveys show this area is teeming with life.

“This is Wales and Ireland we are talking about not Bermuda so get this amount of dolphin and porpoise activity with whales thrown in as well is incredible."

Stena has welcomed Sea Trust volunteers on board its vessels since 2004 to check on cetaceans and other marine wildlife in the waters between Ireland and the UK on a monthly basis.

And as reported previously on Afloat.ie, Seatruck Ferries has also been providing free passage to UK marine wildlife researchers to discover how many dolphins and seabirds make their home in the Irish Sea.

Meanwhile, BBC News reports that a pod of more than 100 bottlenose dolphins was recently spotted off the Isle of Man.

The Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch said it received a number of sightings from the east and west coasts of the island in the northern half of the Irish Sea, reporting a hive of activity.

"The group sizes tend to be relatively ginormous," said Tom Felce of the group. "So if they are here you can't miss them."

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MARINE WILDLIFE - This past weekend saw confirmation that two humpback whales have made an unseasonal visit to Irish waters.

As previously noted on Afloat.ie, the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) had received reports of a sighting of the large cetaceans by birdwatchers off Galley Head in West Cork - an event described as "unusual" by sightings co-ordinator Pádraig Whooley.

But as the Irish Independent reports, those sightings have now been confirmed after IWDG members spotted the humpback pair near The Stags at Castlehaven harbour.

The team was able to get close enough to collect skin samples as well as photo identification, which confirmed that one of the duo is completely new to these waters.

Whooley commented: "Why these two young humpbacks are here during spring, when years of data shows them to be absent in these months, is a mystery."

The Irish Independent has more on the story HERE.

Published in 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

#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 Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) will host the 26th annual European Cetacean Society Conference in Galway on the weekend of 24-25 March this year.

The Galway Bay Hotel will be the site for the main conference sessions, while workshops will also be held at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT).

This year's gathering is being held under the theme 'Communication: Information and Ideas Worth Sharing'. Participants will be exploring communication between marine mammals as well as between marine scientists, and between scientists and the public.

As Ireland's Wildlife reports, the conference "offers a offers a great opportunity to find out more about whales and dolphins, their conservation, the cetacean research being carried out in Europe and to meet the researchers who are working to uncover the mysteries of these most enigmatic of creatures."

Registration is now open for the two-day event. For full details of the conference programme, venues and booking information, visit the European Cetacean Society Conference micro site HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MARINE WILDLIFE - A "feeding frenzy" involving a pod of fin whales was spotted off Hook Head in Co Wexford last week, The Irish Times reports.

And according to Andrew Malcolm of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG), two of the whales were in the same location almost exactly a year ago.

Malcolm, who was with a group on board the Rebecca C, used photographs of the whale's dorsal fins to compare records for the confirmation.

The pod of six fin whales was seen feeding some 3km southeast of Hook Head, attracted by the herring spawning grounds in the area.

More than 30 other cetaceans, including common dolphins, porpoises and a minke whale, were sighted on the trip.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#DALKEY ISLAND PROSPECT - An online petition organised by Protect Our Coast in protest over plans by Providence Resources to start exploratory drilling for oil and gas off Dalkey Island, in south Co. Dublin, has reached over 2,000 signatures to date, including support from overseas.

Providence Resources are seeking permission from the Department of Environment for a foreshore licence to carry out site investigation and drill testing in waters depths of 20-30m in the Kish Bank Basin, at the Dalkey Island 'Prospect'.

They propose drilling one exploratory well some 6kms offshore, though the exact location chosen for the well site is subject to results of seismic surveys. This particularly area lies closer to the coastline, as it is on the more westerly fringes of the exploratory block (33-21) zone.

The campaigners object to the proximity of the well site off Dalkey Island which is designated a Special Protection Area (SPA). The island is home to a resident herd of goats, is rich in birdlife, seals and cetaceans, notably bottlenose dolphins in neighbouring Killiney Bay, which have drawn recent media attention and aided the objectives of the campaign, see www.protectourcoast.net

In addition they oppose the drilling location given its closeness to a large urban population and the risk of an oil-spill and consequent effects to humans and the environment throughout Dublin Bay.

If granted, exploratory work is due to start this year, with Providence claiming the entire process would take up to six months, between survey and drilling operations. During part of that timeframe, up to two seismic vessels will be employed, prior to deploying a 'jack-up' rig to the well site.

Should the oil be commercially viable, the benefits of becoming self-sufficient and security of supply would be of significant economic benefit to Ireland. To date 100% of the country's oil and 95% of its gas is currently imported, and yet most of Ireland's natural resources are unexplored, according to Providence Resources.

Exploration is an expensive exercise and has no guarantee of discovery while the timeframe from discovery to production can typically take five to seven years.

"Yet," say Providence Resources, "the implications of discovering and utilising such a natural resource, and potentially becoming self-sufficient in energy terms, would be of significant economic benefit for Ireland Inc. in terms of taxation, employment, security of supply and skills development."

To read more information about Dalkey Island Prospect from Providence Resources, with maps, montages (including views from White Rock Beach) newsletters and video presentation visit www.providenceresources.com/dalkeyisland.aspx

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the application for the foreshore license is currently on view in Dalkey and Dun Laoghaire Garda stations. The application contains maps, plans, and drawings which can be inspected, noting the public consultation process ends on Thursday 2nd February 2012.

In addition for information from the Department of Environment's website, click HERE. Those wishing to make an objection or representation of the sought license should make submissions to the Foreshore Unit of the department on close of business (also) on Thursday 2nd February 2012.

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Published in Coastal Notes

#MARINE WILDLIFE - The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) says 2011 was a record year for whale and dolphin strandings, according to The Irish Times.

IWDG co-ordinator Dr Simon Berrow confirmed a total of 160 strandings reported by year's end.

"This is by far the highest total for the number of stranding records and the third highest total for sighting records since the IWDG recording schemes were established in 1991," he said.

The 2011 record compares to a figure of 92 stranded cetaceans in 2010 - a number much lower than previous years.

Dr Berrow explained to BBC News: "The figures for 2010 were very low, and, we think, this was due to the easterly winds that year. But now we are back up to the kind of level we expect."

Stranding records in 2011 were characterised by a very high peak of common dolphin strandings during February and a high number of porpoise strandings during the winter.

Meanwhile, Dr Berrow considered the latest sightings record "very impressive" given the exceptionally poor sea conditions during autumn and winter.

More than 1,500 whale and dolphin sightings were made in 2011 around the entire coastline of Ireland despite the bad weather.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MARINE WILDLIFE - Some 46 reports of stranded whales and dolphins in Northern Ireland are among the thousands recorded across the UK over the last six years, according to BBC News.

A new study co-ordinated by the Zoological Socoety of London (ZSL) shows that some 3,500 cetaceans were stranded on the British coastline between 2005 and 2010.

Though year-on-year figures have fallen overall, is presumed that many more strandings have gone undetected.

Many were found to have died of disease or starvation – particular harbour dolphins.

But human activity such as fishing, shipping and chemical pollution also poses a significant threat to marine wildlife in the waters around the British Isles, said Rob Deaville of the ZSL.

The public is being encouraged to report stranded marine mammals to help create a more accurate picture.

BBC News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#TOURISM - Winter might be upon us, but it's a great time to plan a new year holiday in Ireland on the sea, according to the UK's Daily Echo.

From night-time paddling in with renowned kayaking instructor Jim Kennedy, to snorkelling in Baltimore, relaxing in Skibbereen and and fresh seafood lunches in Kinsale, a vacation in Cork can appeal to any taste.

Whale and dolphin watching is a big draw for the region, too, as Ireland's coast – the first cetacean sanctuary in Europe - plays host to a growing variety of species.

The summer feeding grounds off the southern coast are particularly busy, and tourist boats are often treated to whales breaching the surface and surrounded by dolphins putting on a show.

The Daily Echo has more on the story HERE.

Published in Aquatic Tourism
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