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IWDG Welcomes Moves To Protect Deep-Diving Cetaceans From Seismic Survey

11th August 2013
IWDG Welcomes Moves To Protect Deep-Diving Cetaceans From Seismic Survey

#MarineWildlife - The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has welcomed recent measures to protect deep-diving cetaceans from the potential effects of seismic survey noise.

The new measures have been implemented by the Petroleum Affairs Division (PAD) of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).

As a result, the environmental management plan for the 2D seismic survey of the Irish EEZ, being conducted by ENI Ireland BV in conjunction with the PAD, includes the establishment of a 'mitigation zone' along key parts of the continental shelf margin from which all seismic survey is excluded. 

The management plan was informed by two projects recently conducted by the IWDG: the recently published Atlas of the Offshore Distribution of Marine Mammals in Irish Waters (funded by the the NPWS and the Marine Institute); and the Beaked Whale Passive Acsoutic Monitoring Pilot, conducted in the Rockall Trough and funded by the PAD.

Both these projects identified areas of the Irish shelf slopes as being of importance to deep-diving cetaceans such as beaked whales, sperm whales and pilot whales.

The mitigation zones implemented during the ENI/PAD 2D survey show how collected data can directly contribute to cetacean conservation in Irish waters, according to the IWDG.

In other news, the IWDG has been carrying out its own survey in North Kerry to investigate the use of Tralee Bay and Bandon Bay by bottlenose dolphins, and assess the potential for marine wildlife tourism in the region.

Since May, Drs Simon Berrow and Joanne O'Brien have ben working with the local community in Fenit and North Kerry to survey and record dolphins and other cetaceans to build up a better understanding of how they use the bays.

The IWDG has also deployed three C-PODs across the bays to acoustically monitor the area for dolphins. 

"It has long been known that Tralee and Brandon Bays are the only site where the resident bottlenose dolphins in the Shannon Estuary occur," said Dr Berrow. "The bottlenose dolphins in the Shannon are a genetically discrete population with a relatively small population of around 120-140 individuals. The Shannon is protected for bottlenose dolphins but Tralee and Brandon Bays are not.

"Since the start of this project, which is funded by North and East Kerry Development, we have encountered bottlenose dolphins on every trip. Photo IDs have established them to be Shannon dolphins, and they have been detected acoustically on nearly 90% of days at some sites."

Celtic Mist, the IWDG's research vessel, has been joined by local boats in surveying the area and on Wednesday last (6 August) it encountered a large group of bottlenose dolphins in Brandon Bay - captured on video by local filmmaker James McCarthy:

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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