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Arctic Beluga Among Whale Species Recorded In Irish Waters In New Research

26th November 2018
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The whale research yacht Song of the Whale joined the RV Celtic Voyager in carrying out acoustic surveys of Irish offshore waters with GMIT researchers The whale research yacht Song of the Whale joined the RV Celtic Voyager in carrying out acoustic surveys of Irish offshore waters with GMIT researchers Photo: Aer Corps Photographic Section

The Beluga whale — a species mainly found in the Arctic Circle — has been recorded in Irish territorial waters as part of a groundbreaking three-year research project into our offshore habitats for marine wildlife.

On Friday (23 November) the ObSERVE Programme team announced the findings of its aerial and acoustic projects, led respectively by UCC and GMIT and which survived larked areas of the Irish and Celtic seas as well as the Atlantic Margin.

Besides the begula, the researchers detected endangered blue whales underwater up to 200km from their survey position, noting strong seasonal patterns in their sounds.

The most abundant baleen whale species is the minke whale, whose numbers in Irish waters reach some 12,000 in summer months and 5,000 in winter, including significant sightings of calves.

Fin whales were also recorded throughout the year, suggesting the continental slope and adjacent deep waters are an important area for this species.

Numbers of deep-water beaked whales — recently the subject of concern over mass strandings in Ireland and Scotland — were also estimated to reach some 4,000 in winter months.

In addition the ObSERVE Programme studied distribution and behaviour of dolphin species, as well as the half a million seabirds of the Atlantic Margin — which included sightings of white-tailed tropicbirds normally found much further south.

The news comes just days after a rare spotting of killer whales in pair off the coast of Co Dublin — and as hundreds of translucent parasitoid phronima have washed up on a beach near Dingle, as TheJournal.ie reports.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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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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