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Displaying items by tag: Whales & Dolphins

#HelpCetaceans - From the fast and furious ThunderCats to the more serious side of marine wildlife as the Irish Whale & Dolphin ketch is part of the Dublin Riverfest which concludes this afternoon, writes Jehan Ashmore.

As previously reported on Afloat, the IW&DG’s research vessel, the RV Celtic Mist is open to the public from among the visiting tallships. The 56ft steel hulled ketch is berthed in the Grand Canal Dock Basin. It is refreshing to see that the ketch has occupied a berth at this location to spread the maritime festival beyond the Liffey quays.

Celtic Mist with a port of registry in the capital is berthed in the dock basin close to the Plaza opposite the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre. The ketch in recent years was donated by the family of the late Charles J. Haughey.

The former Taoiseach having declared Ireland as a whale and dolphin sanctuary in 1991, however the IW&DG are appealing for donations and corporate sponsorship to ensure the financial sustainability of running the ketch within the next three years. They require €20,000-30,000 to operate the costs of the ketch based on an annual basis.

Afloat took the opportunity to board the handsome looking French built ketch dating to 1974 and now carrying out important research on cetaceans. The work by the IW&DG is invaluable, given the all-Ireland group is dedicated to the conservation and better understanding of whales, dolphins and porpoises.

This involves Celtic Mist undertaking cruises to monitor species off our shores and by returning such data that leads to further studies, education and interpretation. These cruises (up to eight persons) carry out sighting of cetaceans and involves co-ordination schemes when species are stranded.

In addition to the role of Celtic Mist, assistance in carrying out sightings involves ferry and aerial surveys with the collaboration of the Air Corps Maritime Squadron. The combination of all such data is to help monitor the status of whales and dolphins in Ireland and to inform policy and implementation of action plans.

For more on the work of the IW&DG and how to become a member if you are to sail on the RV Celtic Mist, visit their website here.

Published in Tall Ships

#Whales&Dolphins - The first ever ORCA OceanWatch Week saw crews’ record sightings of whales, dolphins and porpoises on commercial ships, ferries and naval vessels leaving Portsmouth and other UK ports.

Those involved had been trained by experts at ORCA, the Portsmouth based whale, dolphin and porpoise conservation charity, who have collated hundreds of reports from dozens of vessels.

Afloat.ie adds that the ORCA survey included ferries from the Isle of Man Steam Packet's Douglas-Heysham route and Brittany Ferries Cork-Roscoff service.

ORCA has just released the figures, which exceeded the charity’s expectations. Nearly 2,000 individual cetaceans, the name given to whales, dolphins and porpoises, were spotted during OceanWatch, the first monitoring event of its kind.

Well known BBC TV wildlife presenter Chris Packham, who is a Patron of ORCA, has been at the Hampshire port to meet the team and discuss the outcome of the survey. Chris said, “It's a fantastic result and great to see so many organisations working together on such an important issue. ORCA will now be able to create an even more authoritative map, showing where these amazing creatures are living, and helping to protect them in the future. Now let's aim to double those sightings in 2016!”

Chris Packham was at Portsmouth International Port to join one of Brittany Ferries’ popular whale watching mini cruises to Spain. The ferry operator was a major contributor to ORCA OceanWatch Week, with its vessels crisscrossing the Bay of Biscay, one of the world’s hotspots for whales and dolphins.

Martin Putman, Port Manager, was on hand to welcome the popular presenter back to the UK ferryport. He said, “We were delighted to host the launch of ORCA OceanWatch, and it’s great to hear that the charity has been able to gather so much important information. It’s a tribute to their hard work, and the determination of the crews who have gone to great lengths to accurately record the sightings.”

The common dolphin was the most frequently seen cetacean, with 50 sightings, totalling 747 individuals. Highlights of the survey included four blue whales seen in the Bay of Biscay from the Cunard Queen Elizabeth (a visitor off Dun Laoghaire Harbour in 2013) and 750 pilot whales seen in one day in Arctic Waters on board the Saga Pearl II.

271 sightings of cetaceans totalling 1,939 individual animals were reported during ORCA OceanWatch. These reports included 16 different species of cetacean; harbour porpoise, common dolphin, striped dolphin, white-beaked dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, Rissos dolphin, Atlantic white-sided dolphin, pilot whale, minke whale, Sei whale, fin whale, humpback whale, blue whale, sperm whale, Cuvier's beaked whale and northern bottlenose whale.

The surveys were recorded in the following seven sea regions: Arctic Waters, Bay of Biscay and Iberian Coast, Celtic Sea, English Channel, North Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Wider Atlantic Ocean.

The full 2015 ORCA OceanWatch will be available to view on the ORCA website soon: www.orcaweb.org.uk/get-involved/OceanWatch

As above in the YouTube footage is Nigel Marven at the launch of the event held at the port in July.

Published in Marine Wildlife

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