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Locals Defy Advice To Refloat Two Whales From Donegal Beach

9th July 2014
Locals Defy Advice To Refloat Two Whales From Donegal Beach

#MarineWildlife - Two of the stranded pilot whales at Falcarragh in Co Donegal have been refloated by locals against advice to leave them alone to die naturally.

According to RTÉ News, the public was warned away from the strand - now reported to be Drumnatinny beach - but a group met at first light this morning where they found four whales still alive in a pool of water and refloated two of them at high tide.

The locals said they watched the whales for several hours to make sure they did not strand themselves again.

But their actions still go against "internationally accepted" practice to leave whales that strand after being refloated to die in peace, as Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) welfare officer Paul Kiernan explains.

Meanwhile, a visitor to the area has told the Belfast Telegraph of her horror over scenes on the beach where hundreds of onlookers gathered to see the beached whale pod.

Nicola Hinds from Bangor said some parents encouraged their children to interfere with the carcasses, while others photographed dying whales with camera phones.

She also criticised authorities for not handling the situation better, describing the scene as "an act of total wilful animal cruelty".

IWDG strandings officer Mick O'Connell has since written a column discussing the lessons to be learnt from this incident, calling for the State to establish official procedures for live strandings.

"It is time for State agencies to sit down and decide who has responsibility for live strandings in this country," he writes. "The relevant agency needs to have in place a coastal network of personnel trained in the latest 'best practice' guidelines for dealing with live strandings."

These guidelines, O'Connell adds, must be "backed up with appropriate authority to act as beachmaster when dealing with members of the public, the Gardaí and the Irish Coast Guard service."

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!