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Displaying items by tag: Dolphin

There’s concern in West Kerry and worldwide among his fans and friends that Fungie the Dingle Dolphin is becoming depressed. He is being made gloomy by the lack of company and an audience for his usual summer season starring role, which would be playing to empty houses were he to put it on under the current Lockdown. Thus the word is that Dingle is organising a rota of boats to keep him company from time to time, but whether that will be remotely as good as the usual capacity crowd he gets in high summer remains to be seen.

Whale and dolphin specialists may sniffily tell us that it’s completely unnatural and maybe unhealthy for a lone bottlenose dolphin like Fungie to develop such a special relationship with a waterborne enraptured audiences of adoring fans. But if you’ve ever been in the midst of the milling fleet of boats as it wheels frenetically around Fungie as he goes through his many routines, you’ll realise that here is one very intelligent rockstar putting on a life-enhancing performance, and the fact that he has been joyously doing it since 1983 suggests that ill-health – whether physical or mental – had not been on the agenda until the current freakish situation.

In terms of rockstar/audience interaction, it certainly beats the experience being at Electric Picnic or Slane Castle on a damp midge-ridden evening every time. Our own best experience of it came after the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle race way back in 1995, when we joined the gathering fleet in the afternoon sunshine out in the harbour mouth, and suddenly he was among us. Fungie was leaping and pirouetting with such style and speed and enthusiasm that we’re convinced he went straight over our 35-footer between the mast and the backstay, because we certainly were very close indeed to the godlike presence.

meeting fungie2Well hello there…….close encounters with Fungie are never forgotten. Photo Dingle Dolphin
In the heightened mood, people become semi-demented, and one of our crew – he had better remain nameless – jumped in with the group already in the water trying to share the Fuungie experience to the uttermost. Some greater power seems to protect it all, because so far as is known, none of the head-cases who jump in has yet been struck by the flailing propellors of the heaving fleet.

So if there is one special early exemption from lockdown, it should be made for the Fungie experience in Dingle. He has taught us a lot, so much so that the very idea of eating whalemeat now seems like cannibalism, while it has been shown that the bonds that form from special relationships between dolphins and humans are not to be trifled with.

Twenty years or so ago, a “scientific” international research group formed an intimate bond with a dolphin, and when the experiment was over they simply went away and left him on his own in the sea. Becoming terminally depressed after the ending of the fun they’d had, he took his own life by descending to the seabed and not coming up for air.

That now seems an absolute disgrace caused by contemptible thoughtlessness, and the fact that we see it as such is heightened by our awareness of Fungie. This responsiveness to the sensitivities and fascination of special sea creatures is relatively new, for it’s now generally forgotten that very many years ago, Baltimore in West Cork was home to a semi-resident dolphin or pilot whale known as Albert.

This would have been in the 1920s to 1940s period, and Albert aroused mixed feelings. He would escort boats in and out through the harbour mouth, and when a visiting cruising boat had anchored off the village, he would occasionally rub up against the hull, supposedly to clear himself of sea lice, though his intentions were equally likely to have been amorous.

baltimore harbour aerialHigh summer in Baltimore, West Cork. Nearly a hundred years ago, Baltimore’s resident dolphin or pilot whale - known as Albert - was rumoured to have moved anchored cruising boats from their carefully selected location off the village (foreground) all the way across the harbour to Sherkin Island during the night. Photo: Tom Vaughan
Another of his tricks was to trip the anchor of carefully-anchored boats. Nowadays when it only needs a quick jab of astern with the auxiliary engine to dig the anchor in again, that wouldn’t be too much of a hassle. But in the old days when many craft were engine-less, it was a real pain to have to stick up some sail to make some way astern.

However, that was as nothing compared to the experience of at least two visiting crews, who went to sleep with their boats anchored serenely close in off Baltimore and woke in the morning to find themselves anchored over at Sherkin. Albert had taken it upon himself to move them quietly across Baltimore Harbour.

Nowadays people would be queuing up and paying good money for the extraordinary experience of having their boat moved almost a mile during the night by a friendly hyper-clever big dolphin. But back in the ancient times, visitors to Baltimore were earnestly warned of the hazards posed by Albert, he was looked on as very much of a mixed blessing, and most certainly not as a very special visitor attraction.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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People may not be able to go to sea at present due to the Government restrictions but dolphins and porpoises clearly can’t read and so we are seeing reports of their activity in Belfast Lough.

Recent sightings include about eight dolphins (likely bottlenose) off Orlock Point near Groomsport on the North Down coast, heading north-west, and of harbour porpoises at Black Head opposite on the Co. Antrim coast.

You can watch the dolphins in the video below

A dozen porpoises were sighted in calm conditions, feeding, travelling and resting and heading northeast.

And had boat owners been able to go down the pontoons at Bangor Marina last Saturday they might have had a treat. The duty berthing master watched a mother otter and two pups playing on a pontoon. 

Published in Marine Wildlife
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O’Sullivan’s Marine have shared with us a photo of the surprise moment when a dolphin landed on the bow of one of their boats.

The sudden encounter was all the more startling as the marine mammal almost knocked a child out of the boat — but the youngster still managed to capture the cetacean on camera.

Elsewhere, BreakingNews.ie reports that a striped dolphin was found dead in a river near Lahinch despite the best efforts of local surfers after the animal live-stranded on the popular North Clare beach.

Dr Simon Berrow of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, who also joined the rescue effort, said: “We found a striped dolphin, quite a large animal, obviously in distress. We tried to push it out again [to sea] but it was very weak.”

The IWDG chief added: “The surfers did their best and we thank them for trying but sometimes a dolphin will live strand themselves … there’s very little you can do.”

Published in Marine Wildlife

The National Yacht Club's Mal Nowlan couldn't believe his eyes on Saturday afternoon when a pod of dolphins came into the harbour to play around his boat.

'I was calibrating my RIB’s compass when DBSC’s Committee Boat 'Freebird' came into the harbour after racing. I thought my eyes were codding me as I glimpsed something rise off her bow', Mal told Afloat.ie.

Dolphins have become relatively common in the Bay in recent years but they're still a very rare sight within the harbour walls.

'I watched and saw what I reckon was a group of five dolphins escort Freebird almost to the marina break-water before turning and heading slowly back to sea', Mal said.

Reports from Scotland say, from April into May, dolphins are widely expected as the migratory salmon run picks up a bit of pace and the dolphins arrange themselves around specific places. Perhaps this is a coming trend further down the Irish Sea now too? 

The bottlenose dolphin is possibly the most socially active of the dolphin species that we get in the comparatively chilly waters of Dublin Bay. As the capital's waters have become cleaner, dolphins are popular visitors, so lets hope recent reports of murkiness don't turn them away.

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For the past six years, the first few weeks of the year have seen an increase in the number of dolphins being washed up on the Irish coastline.

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group is making a determined effort this year to try to establish the cause and has begun the first post-mortem examinations of dead dolphins by a veterinary laboratory.

In this week’s podcast, the Chief Scientific Officer of the IWDG tells me what is being done and says that fisheries by-catch is particularly being looked at.

If there is another increase this year in the number of stranded dolphins, the IWDG is hoping the post-mortem scheme will provide a definite insight towards the cause of dolphin deaths.

Irish Whale and Dolphin Group reports eight strandings since Jan 1 ....There were two on New Year’s Day, a common dolphin in Tralee Bay and a white-beaked dolphin at Ballyconneely in Co,Galway. There have been strandings since in Counties Wexford, Clare, Mayo, Waterford and two more in Kerry.

Listen to the Podcast below.

Published in Tom MacSweeney

The Howth–based Coast Guard boat “Sean A Dunne” was joined by some unexpected visitors today in the form of a school of Bottlenose Dolphins.

The Coast Guard crew of four from Howth station were on routine exercise in the Irish Sea off Donabate, Co Dublin in what was flat calm clear conditions.

The dolphins joined the crew surfing the bow waves of the Coast Guard boat before heading back to deeper waters.

 

Published in Coastguard
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Seán Kelly MEP (Ireland South) is calling for regular on-board inspections of supertrawlers fishing off the Irish coast to ensure that they are fully compliant with the EU Common Fisheries Policy, following a reported rise in dolphin deaths. The Fine Gael MEP is also asking the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) to review and maximise its inspections when trawlers are operating off the Irish coast.

“In July 2016, in separate cases, three dead dolphins were found on the south-west coast of Ireland in the space of one week, one with a rope around its tail. These findings follow reports of a rise in the number of dead dolphins on Ireland’s west coast since the beginning of 2016.

“It is reported that large supertrawlers are currently operating around 30km off the coast of Co Kerry. While the link between supertrawler activity and the increase in these dolphin deaths is not proven, the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) stresses that caution must be taken as regards the impact of human activity on all components of the ecosystem,” Mr Kelly stressed in an official question to the European Commission on the matter.

In a response received by Mr Kelly this week, the Commission said it “takes note of the recent death of dolphins along the south-west coast of Ireland” and that it “has tabled a revised technical measures proposal which aims to ensure better protection of cetaceans and alignment of by-catch levels to international levels. This proposal is currently being discussed by the co-legislators”.

Speaking from Brussels today (Wednesday), Mr Kelly said: “I welcome that the Commission is monitoring the situation. The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) is responsible for yearly reports to the Commission, but in light of these recent reports, I am urging the SFPA to maximise inspections along the Irish coast.”

In the written response, the Commission added: “When trawlers are fishing off the Irish coast, the SFPA has access to satellite Vessel Monitoring, Automatic Identification System (AIS) and Electronic Reporting Systems (ERS) data. Regular inspections are organised at sea and at landing by the SFPA, to check compliance with the Common Fisheries Policy. The SFPA regularly reports on its control and inspection activities.”

The Commission also confirmed that it is carrying out regular audits in Ireland to ensure that Ireland is complying with its obligations and has an effective monitoring, control and surveillance system in place.

Ireland became the first European country to declare all Irish waters a dolphin and whale sanctuary in 1991.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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A new marine wildlife visitor centre has been launched in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull by conservation charity Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust – to strengthen conservation action for whales, dolphins, and porpoises, and to develop the Hebrides’ appeal as a wildlife tourism hotspot.

The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Centre on Tobermory’s picturesque harbour front was formally opened this month, and will be a learning, training and volunteering hub, as well as providing a major attraction for visitors, including families and children.

The building’s transformation has been funded as part of a grant of almost £220,000 from the UK Government’s Coastal Communities Fund. The fully renovated and extended centre features information on sightings of cetaceans – the collective name for whales, dolphins and porpoises – interactive exhibitions, displays and a gift shop.

“Our new centre aims to put Mull and the Hebrides even more firmly on the map as a key destination to enjoy and discover world-class marine biodiversity – which in turn will boost conservation, and could bring significant economic and social benefits to the region,” said Alison Lomax, Director of Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust.

The centre was recently launched with a celebratory event attended by dozens of guests from across the UK, including conservationists, scientists, volunteers and local businesses.

The trust’s previous shop and visitor centre attracted 26,000 people in 2015 – a figure that Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust hopes will now rise significantly.

With Western Scotland’s seas being one of Europe’s most important cetacean habitats, the charity believes that developing sustainable marine wildlife eco-tourism is a major opportunity, as demonstrated by the benefits of white-tailed eagles to the local economies of Mull and Skye.

So far 24 of the world’s estimated 92 cetacean species – including many national and international conservation priority species – have been recorded in the region, and fascinating new discoveries about these populations are constantly being discovered.

The Coastal Communities Fund has also enabled the trust to carry out an innovative Sea Change project across the Hebrides over the past two years, to strengthen people’s connections to the sea in remote island communities. This has involved engagement with thousands of people, through roadshows, community visits, liaison with wildlife tourism businesses, and dozens of events.

Responsible whale watching, WiSe (Wildlife Safe) accredited, training has been provided for 23 tour boat operators, while local people have been able to develop skills through the trust’s Community Sightings Network – through which people can report sightings of cetaceans, helping to map their distribution.

Sea Change has been carried out on Mull, Coll and Tiree, Islay and Jura, Colonsay, Barra, Small Isles (Eigg, Muck, Rum, Canna), Mallaig and Arisaig, North and South Uist, Harris, Lewis, Gairloch and Skye.

The Coastal Communities Fund has also funded a refurbishment of the trust’s research yacht, Silurian, aboard which marine scientists and volunteers conduct surveys monitoring cetaceans each year. More than 90,000km of Hebridean seas have been surveyed and over 18,000 individual cetaceans recorded so far – significantly extending scientists’ knowledge and understanding, and informing long-term conservation initiatives.

Paying volunteers are being recruited for the trust’s 2016 expeditions onboard Silurian, working alongside marine scientists. For details, email [email protected], call 01688 302620 or visit www.hwdt.org.

The Coastal Communities Fund was created to direct regeneration investment to seaside towns and villages to help rebalance local economies, reduce unemployment and create work opportunities for local young people.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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#Fungie - Dingle's resident dolphin Fungie has sustained a significant wound below his dorsal fin, as the Irish Examiner reports.

The deep cut, likely inflicted by a visiting boat's propeller, was noticed yesterday (Friday 3 June) by fans of the popular marine wildlife attraction who's delighted locals and visitors alike in Dingle for more than 30 years.

However, Fungie lovers have been urged not to panic – as the famous bottlenose has healed well from similar injuries before, and has already returned to frolicking with boaters in Dingle Harbour.

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

Electronic navigation safety technology is to be used to study the potential impacts of marine traffic on whale, dolphin and porpoise species off western Scotland in a new season of research expeditions launched by Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust this week.

For the first time, scientists and trained volunteers onboard the conservation charity’s specialized research yacht Silurian will use an Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponder to collect detailed data on other vessels’ movements. This will be combined with sightings and underwater acoustic monitoring of cetaceans – the collective name for whales, dolphins and porpoises – to gain new insights into how species are affected by ships’ movements and noise.

AIS – an automatic tracking system that electronically identifies and locates nearby vessels, continuously transmitting details of their identity, position, speed and course – is more commonly used in navigation safety, allowing ships to ‘see’ each other in all conditions.

With marine traffic from a large range of industries growing, known threats or pressures for cetaceans from shipping include ship-strikes – in which vessels accidentally hit whales – and noise pollution from poorly designed or poorly maintained vessels, which can mask out whale sounds used for communication and navigation.

Dr Conor Ryan, Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust Science Officer, said: “This innovative approach provides us with an opportunity to enhance our long-term research, which is providing unprecedented insights into the distribution and range of cetaceans in Scotland’s seas, as well as the challenges they face – including the unintentional consequences of human activities.

“The Hebrides may seem like a wilderness, but human impacts on the marine environment are significant – and likely to increase with expansions in marine industries, such as aquaculture and renewable installations. Strengthening scientific understanding is crucial if we are to help industries ensure that their impacts on Scotland’s remarkable whales, dolphins and porpoise populations are minimal.”

The new AIS transponder on Silurian will also allow closer public engagement with the trust’s research expeditions. By using the research vessel’s unique Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number 232004280, people will be able to follow Silurian’s progress around Scotland’s west coast in real-time via www.hwdt.org.

Equipping Silurian with AIS technology has been made possible by a grant of £94,000 from the UK Government’s Coastal Communities Fund. This grant has also funded a major refurbishment of the yacht, including an environmentally friendly and long-lasting copper coating for the hull that will ensure the vessel remains seaworthy for the next decade, alongside other activities.

Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust – based in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull – is recruiting paying volunteers for its surveys. Between May and October, there will be 12 separate expeditions, each lasting between one and two weeks. This includes two ‘Teen Teams’ reserved for 16-17 year olds.

These volunteers will work and sleep on Silurian, receiving specialist training and working with scientists – conducting visual surveys, acoustic monitoring, and cetacean identification through dorsal fin photography. They will also be able to develop sailing and navigation skills as they visit some of Britain’s most remote and wild corners.

Silurian has been the platform for Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust’s unique research programme since 2002, welcoming aboard over 60 volunteers annually, surveying tens of thousands of nautical miles and logging every cetacean encounter made. This year, the yacht will welcome her 800th volunteer aboard. The yacht is also used as a floating classroom for marine conservation education for schoolchildren and students.

Western Scotland’s seas are one of Europe’s most important habitats for cetaceans with 24 of the world’s estimated 92 cetacean species recorded in the region to date. Many of these are national and international conservation priority species.

As well as strengthening knowledge about cetaceans and contributing to recommendations to safeguard them, the trust’s surveys are important because cetaceans are apex predators at the top of the marine food web, and so can act as indicators of the marine environment’s overall health.

The 2016 surveys depart from Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, Kyle of Lochalsh or Ullapool. The new addition of Ullapool as a rendezvous point will allow the trust to carry out more surveys in the remoter corners of its study area. Areas covered depend on the weather but will range from Mull of Kintyre in the south, Cape Wrath in the north and St Kilda in the west.

Participation costs cover boat expenses, accommodation, training, food and insurance, and support the charity’s research. For details, email [email protected], call 01688 302620 or visit www.hwdt.org.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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Coastal Notes Coastal Notes covers a broad spectrum of stories, events and developments in which some can be quirky and local in nature, while other stories are of national importance and are on-going, but whatever they are about, they need to be told.

Stories can be diverse and they can be influential, albeit some are more subtle than others in nature, while other events can be immediately felt. No more so felt, is firstly to those living along the coastal rim and rural isolated communities. Here the impact poses is increased to those directly linked with the sea, where daily lives are made from earning an income ashore and within coastal waters.

The topics in Coastal Notes can also be about the rare finding of sea-life creatures, a historic shipwreck lost to the passage of time and which has yet many a secret to tell. A trawler's net caught hauling more than fish but cannon balls dating to the Napoleonic era.

Also focusing the attention of Coastal Notes, are the maritime museums which are of national importance to maintaining access and knowledge of historical exhibits for future generations.

Equally to keep an eye on the present day, with activities of existing and planned projects in the pipeline from the wind and wave renewables sector and those of the energy exploration industry.

In addition Coastal Notes has many more angles to cover, be it the weekend boat leisure user taking a sedate cruise off a long straight beach on the coast beach and making a friend with a feathered companion along the way.

In complete contrast is to those who harvest the sea, using small boats based in harbours where infrastructure and safety poses an issue, before they set off to ply their trade at the foot of our highest sea cliffs along the rugged wild western seaboard.

It's all there, as Coastal Notes tells the stories that are arguably as varied to the environment from which they came from and indeed which shape people's interaction with the surrounding environment that is the natural world and our relationship with the sea.

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