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Displaying items by tag: Irish Whale and Dolphin Group

#MARINE WILDLIFE - The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has announced another series of its popular whale watching courses on Cape Clear in West Cork this summer.

The courses cater for adults keen to learn more about whales and dolphins in Irish waters and how to observe, record and identify them. They will feature a mixture of workshops and field trips, including cliff and boat-based whale watches.

Three weekend courses will take place on 25-27 May, 20-22 July and 7-9 September, led by IWDG sightings co-ordinator Pádraig Whooley. All are open to IWDG members and non-members alike, but places are limited to 20 places each weekend on a first-come-first-served basis.

Admission is €70 for IWDG members (€90 for non-members), with a non-refundable deposit of €25 required. Please note that this fee does not cover transport to Cape Clear, food or accomodation (which is limited in high summer) or any boat trips. As the itinerary will be weather-dependant, some flexibility will be required.

More information on the weekends and booking details are available at the IWDG website HERE.

In other IWDG news, the group has secured another grant from the Island Foundation to continue its humpback whale research in Cape Verde this spring and summer.

A shore-based team will be stationed in Boa Vista in an area that is "possibly the most important site for breeding humbacks in the entire northeast Atlantic".

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

#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 - 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

#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

#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

#MARINE WILDLIFE - Ireland's first humpback whale of the year has been spotted off the Wexford coast.

The sighting was made yesterday by whale-watchers among a pod of fin whales some three miles south of Hook Head, according to TheJournal.ie.

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has also confirmed that the humpback is a new sighting in Irish waters, and has been designated the reference HBIRL18.

RTÉ News has images of the humpback whale HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#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
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