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Atlas of Ireland's Offshore Marine Mammals Published (Download Here)

23rd July 2013
Atlas of Ireland's Offshore Marine Mammals Published (Download Here)

#marinewildlife – The Marine Institute has welcomed the recent publication of the "Atlas of the Distribution and Relative Abundance of Marine Mammals in Irish Offshore Waters: 2005-2011", that was launched by Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan on board the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group's (IWDG) Research Vessel Celtic Mist, last week (16th July 2013).

The Atlas marks the culmination of six years of surveys involving more than 1,000 days at sea. It contains a detailed analysis of 21 species of porpoises, dolphins, whales and seals in Irish waters showing seasonal and geographic location. The atlas will provide a valuable data source for marine scientists, marine conservationists and the general public with an interest in marine mammals and their protection.

Minister Deenihan commended the work undertaken to produce the atlas, "This fine atlas is the culmination of many years of work by a large number of people and I'm happy to note that it was produced under a project funded over several years by my department in collaboration with the Marine Institute."

Research Vessels Operations Manager at the Marine Institute, Aodhán FitzGerald (a former Round Ireland yacht race winner) commented on the value of using the Marine Institute's research vessels as one of the platforms, stating "Marine observers have been able to join surveys on board the RV Celtic Explorer and the RV Celtic Voyager for many years. These have been on both dedicated mammal observation surveys as well as working a long side other marine scientists during multidisciplinary surveys, which has provided an excellent opportunity for the observers," he said.

The Irish waters are home to a diversity of whales and dolphins, and the information collected is included in Ireland's report to the European Commission on marine mammals conservation as part of our obligations under the European Habitats Directive.

Data presented in the Atlas was collected as part of the following research programmes: Marine Mammals and Megafauna in Irish waters – Behaviour, Distribution and habitat use; Irish Scheme for Cetacean Observation and Public Education (ISCOPE I and II); Cetaceans on the Frontier Surveys 2009 and 2010 (MI Cruise No: CE0914 and CE10009); IWDG Ferry Survey Programme and the IWDG Ship Surveys Programme.

The Atlas of the Distribution and Relative Abundance of Marine Mammals in Irish Offshore Waters: 2005-2011 is available as a PDF (19MB) to download here 

Published in Marine Wildlife Team

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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!