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Call for Whale Stranding Protocol After Baltimore Incident

19th August 2012
Call for Whale Stranding Protocol After Baltimore Incident

#MARINE WILDLIFE - The Cork News reports that a new protocol will be introduced to deal with large marine wildlife strandings following the public backlash over the handling of the injured and malnourished fin whale in Baltimore Harbour this week.

The 30-tonne whale died on Thursday morning after being trapped in the harbour on Tuesday. As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the whale was left to die as it was found to be too ill to be assisted back into deeper water and was too large to be euthanised with drugs.

Members of the public have complained about the 'do nothing' approach taken by experts. But Dr Simon Berrow of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) defended his organisation's handling of the affair, citing the lack of protocol for such an unforseen incident.

"We are recognised as the most confident group in Ireand in dealing with dolphins and whales but as a charity, it should not be our responsibility," he said. "I don't have the authority to tell someone to shoot a whale."

Dr Berrow said he had been in talks with the Defence Forces about arranging for the distressed whale to be shot before it died, most likely from wounds sustained on sharp rocks in the harbour.

Speaking with The Irish Times, the IWDG's Padraig Whooley said: "As humans, we always think we have to intervene but wildlife rarely does better when we do. In this particular case the ‘do nothing’ approach was the only option open to us."

Whooley also criticised the "fairly shocking" level of ignorance over the incident that saw crowds continue to gather at the harbour in Baltimore even after it became clear that the whale was in significant disgress.

Published in Marine Wildlife
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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Marine Wildlife Around Ireland One of the greatest memories of any day spent boating around the Irish coast is an encounter with marine wildlife.  It's a thrill for young and old to witness seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales right there in their own habitat. As boaters fortunate enough to have experienced it will testify even spotting a distant dorsal fin can be the highlight of any day afloat.  Was that a porpoise? Was it a whale? No matter how brief the glimpse it's a privilege to share the seas with Irish marine wildlife.

Thanks to the location of our beautiful little island, perched in the North Atlantic Ocean there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe.

From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals this page documents the most interesting accounts of marine wildlife around our shores. We're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and youtube clips.

Boaters have a unique perspective and all those who go afloat, from inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing that what they encounter can be of real value to specialist organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) who compile a list of sightings and strandings. The IWDG knowledge base has increased over the past 21 years thanks in part at least to the observations of sailors, anglers, kayakers and boaters.

Thanks to the IWDG work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. Here's the current list: Atlantic white-sided dolphin, beluga whale, blue whale, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, Cuvier's beaked whale, false killer whale, fin whale, Gervais' beaked whale, harbour porpoise, humpback whale, killer whale, minke whale, northern bottlenose whale, northern right whale, pilot whale, pygmy sperm whale, Risso's dolphin, sei whale, Sowerby's beaked whale, sperm whale, striped dolphin, True's beaked whale and white-beaked dolphin.

But as impressive as the species list is the IWDG believe there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you are out on the ocean waves keep a sharp look out!

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