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'Celtic Mist' Voyage to Iceland to be Recounted in Irish Whale & Dolphin Lecture Tour

2nd January 2019

To celebrate the recent Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) expedition to Iceland in May-July 2018 onboard Celtic Mist, the IWDG will be undertaking a tour of Ireland to share stories, images and videos of this exciting and challenging marine wildlife expedition which circumnavigated 1500 nautical miles of the North Atlantic. 

The tour launches on January 14th 7-8: 30 pm at The Lexicon, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin. All events are free and open to everyone.

“It was a wonderful privilege to visit this beautiful country again and to see it from the sea on board Celtic Mist and to have an opportunity to explore the extremity of our humpbacks northern range with a nice mix of whale researchers, enthusiasts, IWDG personnel and sailors” said Pádraig Whooley.

Four women and four men; a retired school teacher, a surgeon, a parks ranger, two IT specialists and with a farmer from Kildare were onboard and skippered by a project manager from Arklow.

During the next six weeks, 30 members from the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, of all ages and all walks of life sailed Celtic Mist 4,500 km around the Icelandic coast and even into the Arctic Circle before returning her back to Dublin via the Faroe Islands and Scotland.

They went in search of humpback whales, one of the most enigmatic species in the world’s oceans. Humpback whales are increasing in Irish waters and the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group wanted to know where are they coming from or going to! Ireland and Iceland share this whale population and we wanted to improve knowledge and build relationships between our two island nations. But they came back with more than they bargained for!

Many experiences were shared by those who sailed Celtic Mist on this ambitious expedition. Many special moments were had with people and wildlife that will stay with these everyday mariners for the rest of their days.

A collection of images and videos will be presented, by the skippers, scientists and crew who ventured on the “trail of the whale”.

“The journey from Iceland was at times challenging but overall very rewarding, with stop-offs in the Faroes and Scotland, which pale in comparison to the beauty of Iceland. Altogether an amazing experience with effects that will reverberate for years to come”, said crew member Loraine Smith.

The day we sat for hours amongst several groups of humpbacks as they fed. The day we sat in the mist in the high sub-arctic and watched a blue whale mother and calf circle the boat.

The day we crept quietly deep into a fjord, passing old whaling stations, and were serenaded by a cacophony of birdlife.

The morning we woke in another fjord to see an arctic fox foraging metres from our anchorage.

“Four humpback whales in a feeding frenzy at the entrance to Eyjafjörður on our way from Siglufjörður to Dalvík. Their primitive sounds and actions oblivious to Celtic Mist drifting in their midst. The blue whale mother and calf that we encountered between Grimsey and Húsavik. Again we drifted without the engine and they circled us at a safe distance. A magical and sensitive moment not to be forgotten”, Mick O’Meara, Skipper.

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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!