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Displaying items by tag: Galway Hooker

Award-winning harpist Laoise Kelly has embarked on a concert tour to five west coast islands on a Galway hooker.

As The Times Ireland reports, Kelly aims to reconnect island communities with music, storytelling and song.

Kelly, a TG4 musician of the year and artistic director of the Achill International Harp Festival, is collaborating with fellow Achill islander Diarmuid Gielty.

Their project named “Casadh na Taoide/Turning of the Tide” has secured Arts Council support.

Casadh Na Taoide - An epic cultural journey connecting five off shore islands. Launched on the feast day of St. Macdara, is a traditional maritime pilgrimage off the coast of Connemara’s Carna bay, to the uninhabited monastic island, Oileán Mhic Dara /St. Mac Dara’s island, where fishermen and locals come to venerate the patron saint of seafarers, bless the boats and to keep fishermen safe for the for the year ahead. Pictured is musicians Diarmuid Gielty (Achill Harp Festival), Freda Nic Giolla Chatháin (Casadh Na Taoide) and Laoise Kelly (TG4 Musician of the Year and Director of the Achill international harp festival. Photo: Michael McLaughlinCasadh Na Taoide - An epic cultural journey connecting five off shore islands. Launched on the feast day of St. Macdara, is a traditional maritime pilgrimage off the coast of Connemara’s Carna bay, to the uninhabited monastic island, Oileán Mhic Dara /St. Mac Dara’s island, where fishermen and locals come to venerate the patron saint of seafarers, bless the boats and to keep fishermen safe for the for the year ahead. Pictured is musicians Diarmuid Gielty (Achill Harp Festival), Freda Nic Giolla Chatháin (Casadh Na Taoide) and Laoise Kelly (TG4 Musician of the Year and Director of the Achill international harp festival. Photo: Michael McLaughlin

Both are on board the Galway hooker Mac Duach, skippered and owned by Dr Michael Brogan, who is chairman of the Galway Hookers’ Association.

The vessel participated in a blessing of the boats off the Connemara island of Oileán Mhic Dara last Friday before setting sail for Inishbofin, Co Galway.

The annual blessing event pays tribute to Mac Dara, the patron saint of seafarers.

After Inishbofin, the hooker sets a course for the Mayo islands of Inishturk, Clare Island, and then AchillAfter Inishbofin, the hooker sets a course for the Mayo islands of Inishturk, Clare Island, and then Achill Photo: Michael McLaughlin

After Inishbofin, the hooker sets a course for the Mayo islands of Inishturk, Clare Island, and then Achill.

It will then head north for its final destination, finishing at Árainn Mhór /Arranmore in Donegal.

Kelly, Gielty and crew will meet musicians, artists, storytellers and historians along the route.

As part of the project, an artist has been commissioned on each island to collaborate, compose and create a new body of work.

They include Inishbofin singer Andrew Murray; Inishturk musician Cathy O’Toole; Clare Island weaver Beth Moran; and Árainn Mhór writer Proinsias Mac a’Bhaird.

A tribute will also be made to the late Achill island visual artist Mary Lavelle Burke, who was an enthusiastic participant in the project and passed away last year.

The voyage is being filmed, as is the artistic work on the five islands.

It will feature as the Friday night performance of this year’s Achill International Harp Festival in October, Nic Giolla Chatháin says.

Read The Times Ireland here

Published in Island News
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A Galway hooker restored with the support of a city publican has joined the local traditional fleet on Galway bay.

Réalt na Gaillimhe or Star of Galway was built in Indreabhán, south Connemara, by the Cloherty boat builders in 1910.

It has been restored by Bádoirí an Chladaigh, one of the two clubs dedicated to Galway hookers in the city, with the help of Johnny Duggan of Taylor’s Bar.

Bádóirí an Chladaigh has been given the full use of the boat to add to a fleet of 14 traditional vessels.

Taylor’s Bar owner Johnny DugganTaylor’s Bar owner Johnny Duggan

“Since 2008, Bádóirí an Chladaigh has been given trusteeship of seven traditional Galway sailing boats within the community boat club,” the club’s secretary Peter Connolly says.

“ Of these, five have been built or restored or are in the process of being brought to full sea-worthiness,” he says.

Réalt na Gaillimhe or Star of Galway was built in Indreabhán, south ConnemaraRéalt na Gaillimhe or Star of Galway was built in Indreabhán, south Connemara

“These seven traditional boats will be joined by seven private boats to create a fleet of 14 boats, and each will represent one of the Galway tribe families,” he says.

“The community of traders in Galway's West will be responsible for the yearly upkeep of the Galway Hooker,” Taylor’s Bar owner Johnny Duggan says.

“ There is a massive natural respect here in Galway’s for the sea and this age-old tradition, but this will help to reaffirm and re-establish these links again,” he says.

Published in Galway Harbour
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Dr Mick Brogan is very much at home in the west of Ireland, with his life as a country GP in Mayo neatly balancing his life as a traditional boat sailor, home-ported in Kinvara. In fact, he is so much a man of the west that he becomes restless if he spends any significant time east of the Shannon.

But between the day job and the leisure time interests, there was plenty to keep him occupied along the Atlantic seaboard, and though he had retired from medicine, he was very soon back in harness, re-joining the strength for the battle with COVID-19.

In that capacity, he found his interests over-lapping, as he is Chairman of Cruinniu na mBad in Kinvara. It was way back in early May, when he and his Committee crisply cancelled the mid-August 2020 Gathering of the Boats – always an epic party - that many of us properly realized, for the first time, how anything in sailing that had serious socializing at its core was off the agenda for the foreseeable future.

Dangerously sociable for pandemic times – communal unloading of the turf at Kinvara after it has been raced in time-honoured style across Galway Bay from ConnemaraDangerously sociable for pandemic times – communal unloading of the turf at Kinvara after it has been raced in time-honoured style across Galway Bay from Connemara

The fate of Cruinniu na mBad 2021 is still in the lap of the Roll-out Gods, though if it does happen it will be August 13th to 15th. But meanwhile, Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association have signed up Mick Brogan to Zoom talk on Thursday, March 11th about the new life which has been found for the Galway Hookers and other traditional western craft through restoration or re-building projects.

It's a subject in which he has special expertise, as his own vessel, the much-travelled 45ft 6ins Mac Duach, was designed and built on totally traditional lines by Colm Mulkerrins in Connemara in 1979. Originally, she was cutter rigged with an enormous widow-maker of a main boom, but these days she sets a more sedate ketch rig, yet still sails many miles.

The mighty Mac Duach, built in 1979. Originally she was cutter-rigged, and it was under that rig that Mick Brogan sailed her to the Faroes and many other distant placesThe mighty Mac Duach, built in 1979. Originally she was cutter-rigged, and it was under that rig that Mick Brogan sailed her to the Faroes and many other distant places

Mick Brogan's talk at 200hrs on Thursday, March 11th will to some extent following on from Dennis Aylmer's talk on his acquisition of the Galway Hooker Morning Star in 1966. Mick for his part will chart the early revival of interest in the Galway Hooker during the 1970s and 1980s, following its decline during the previous seventy years.

By the 1960s, there no hookers working under sail north of Slyne Head. The Saint John, Inishbofin's mailboat, was under engine. The "Westport" hookers of Achill and Clew Bay were no more. In south Connemara, lorries and improved roads had replaced hookers after WW2.

Ten years later, the introduction of bottled gas and electricity to Aran was killing the turf trade. Hookers were going the way of the horse and cart, but despite all the odds, a revival of interest in the hooker took place. Mick will describe this revival, identify the factors that caused it, and provide details of the people and the hookers involved.

The spirit of the west – a re-juvenated Connemara Hooker making good speed to Kinvara against the distinctive background of The BurrenThe spirit of the west – a rejuvenated Connemara Hooker making good speed to Kinvara against the distinctive background of The Burren

DBOGA Fundraising for HOWTH RNLI: Pre-Covid, DBOGA listened to talks together at Poolbeg while passing the RNLI Yellow Welly around for the €5 donation. In Zoom Land, they can't 
do that but the RNLI needs funds. Please click here

DBOGA have so far collected €2,399 against their target of €4,000.

The details of this Zoom meeting are:

Published in Historic Boats

Although the much-anticipated Galway 2020 Festival was one of the many aspects of 2020 which has been severely curtailed by the pandemic, the spirit of the great western city and its maritime traditions lives vibrantly on.

A recent ceremony in the Claddagh Basin enabled Peter Connolly of Badoiri na Gallimh to formally thank Galway 2020 and Galway Crystal for their support in a continuing restoration programme which included - in early July - the formal taking-over of the Clondalkin-built bad mor Naomh Cronan, transferred to Galway in excellent order for the princely sum of €1 after 15 years of serving the sailors of the “Clondalkin Gaeltacht” in Dublin.

Published in Historic Boats
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Irish Sailing has welcomed its newest affiliate in the shape of the Galway Hooker Sailing Club.

The club was formed in 2017 when a group of friends came together to revive and retain the Galway Hooker tradition in Galway.

The Galway Hooker is a traditional fishing vessel, built and designed in Galway, and originally dates from the mid 19th century. Their typical red sails are widely seen in logos and brands around the city.

Current club commodore Ciaran Oliver is one of the founding members and together with a current crew of about 100 people has built a steadily growing club with strong links to the local community — particularly through teaching people the skills to sail these iconic vessels.

To learn more, follow the Galway Hooker Sailing Club on Facebook and Instagram or visit their website at

Published in ISA

The Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association invites traditional boat enthusiasts and all sailing fans to join their next Zoom session on The First Rescue of the Morning Star, which will be given by former DBOGA President Dennis Aylmer of Dun Laoghaire on Thursday 18th June.

The Morning Star was a bád mór – the largest type of Galway Hooker - built circa 1890, and Dennis was one of the first people to restore a boat of this type and size. In his talk. He will outline the extraordinary tale of how he located and obtained the Morning Star in 1965, and managed the extensive restoration works involved.

This was made all the more interesting by the fact that he lived and worked in Dublin, the Morning Star was in Connemara, and he had no means of transport other than his bicycle……Connemara more than a half-a-century ago was a very different place to what it is now and what Dublin was then, and Dennis weaves that social history aspect into this talk.

Also covered is the eventful passage of the Morning Star to Dublin, down the west coast and through the Grand Canal - all without an engine. The talk is accompanied by the many photos that Dennis took during that period.

The session will start at 19:30 but you are requested to join the Zoom meeting at 19:00 for general chat before the Q&A session. Joining early will also ensure that any connection issues can be sorted out well before 19:30.

The details of this Zoom meeting are:

  • Topic: Dennis Aylmer - The First Rescue of the Morning Star
  • Time: Jun 18, 2020 07:00 PM
  • Link to join meeting:
  • Meeting ID: 865 0937 8699 
This is all the information you need to join the meeting - there will be no additional details required or provided on the day of the meeting. You do not need a password to join the meeting. If you join the Zoom meeting by clicking the link above ( you will not need the Meeting Id - that is only needed if you want to join the meeting though other means.
Published in Historic Boats
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On the western edge of Europe lies a unique culture that depended and fought with the Atlantic Ocean for thousands of years.

It is the native sailboat, the Galway Hooker, that sustained this poorest of communities, and the new generation of these same families of sailors still sail the coast of Connemara, now racing to be champions.

TG4’s documentary Bádóiri, now in its second series, follows the historic boats as they awaken from the long Connemara winter, only to find new contenders aboard for this season’s Galway Hooker Racing League regattas.

The preparations have started in earnest, and the show will keep up with the sailors as they race each other in the first of the summer’s races.

In series one we saw the family owned boats battle one another for the coveted prize of All-Ireland champions. In this new series, we introduce a new boat and a new family to the fleet.

Young and eager to impress, this new crew from The Truelight become a racing force to be reckoned as all the crews push themselves and their boats to their limit.

This second series also delves deeper into sailing families lives and histories.

An illness to one of the skippers bring the boatmen together where they share their personal stories as well as their hopes and fears from their sailing culture. Towards the end of the series, the racing and rivalry becomes more intense and the waters become treacherous.

Producer and director Donncha Mac Con Iomaire says: “There are few societies in the world where a 200-year-old boat is the epicentre of the same family for two centuries.

“The maritime community of Connemara never underestimates the Atlantic, and the unity of their families cannot afford to succumb to failure at sea. This ancient world that works hard and plays hard is what is still most genuine culture of Ireland.”

Bádóiri returns tonight, Thursday 5 March, at 8pm on TG4.

Published in Maritime TV

When I walked into Adrian O’Connell’s office in Kilrush Boatyard on the edge of the Shannon Estuary in County Clare, a photograph on the wall caught my attention – a boat sailing at speed, red sails dramatic atop a black hull.

A powerful image of a ‘Half Boat’ – a ‘Leathbád’ in the lexicon of the famous Galway Hookers. The Leathbád has roughly half the carrying capacity of the Bád Mór, the big Hooker.

Adrian built that boat for the Killary Adventure Centre.

THE LEATHBÁD ADRIAN OCONNELL BUILT FOR KILLARY ADVENTURE CENTREThe Leathbád Adrian O'Connell built for Killary Adventure Centre

“It was very successful, could sleep six, had a self-draining cockpit, was fully decked and a good sea boat, which was sailed by many people, including young sailors learning about boats and how to sail and enjoy being on the water.”

"At the age of 78, Adrian O'Connell is planning to build yachts based on the Galway Hooker design"

At the age of 78 he is planning to build yachts based on the Galway Hooker design.

THE ASTER 22 DESIGNED BY ADRIAN O CONNELLThe Aster 22 designed by Adrian O'Connell

From a boatyard at Clifden in County Galway where he built fishing boats and the closure of which he blames on the government decision to enter the EU and ”give away the fishing industry,” to Aster Yachts which he now leads as Managing Director is an interesting story, which he told me - after I asked him about that photo of the ‘Leathbád.’

Listen to the Podcast below

Published in Tom MacSweeney
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When the late Tony Moylan cajoled the notion of Cruinnui na mBad at Kinvara into being in 1979, times were different writes W M Nixon. The idea was to celebrate the Gathering of the Boats in the old days, when the traditional boats of Connemara on the great inlet’s northwest shore sailed up Galway Bay as Autumn approached well laden with turf, one of the few commodities in which their area was naturally richer than the prosperous region around the southeast corner of the handsome bay.

This year, they celebrated the memory of Tony Moylan in the best possible way, by making Cruinniu na mBad bigger and better and more varied than ever for its Fortieth Anniversary. And though the weather was less than co-operative with a seemingly endless deluge on Saturday, for the big day – Sunday – conditions gradually relented, and Kinvara came colourfully to life in evening sunshine after the ancient craft with their black or tanned sails had experienced good racing.

booklet 1979 kinvara2Simpler times. Front and back cover of the booklet for the first Cruinniu na mBad in 1979
Cruinniu na mBad is all about the dynamic interaction between sea and land along Ireland’s Atlantic seaboard, and though the conditions on Saturday saw the emphasis inevitably falling on the landward part of the equation – and the indoor aspect of the landward part at that – there were enough musicians and singers and declaimers of poetry and ancient tales in town to keep the show in the road, even if rain came down extremely heavily with impartial force on both the largest thatched roof in all Ireland – it shelters the Merriman Hotel – and roofs of more prosaic style.

Mac Duach kinvara3A Committee Boat with a difference – Dr Mick Brogan’s Mac Duach is one of the largest Galway hookers ever built, and though originally a cutter, she has continued her extensive cruising in recent years under ketch rig. Photo: Pierce Purcell

Back in 1979, the digging of turf by hand in the bogs of south Connemara, and then sailing it all the way up the bay, must have seemed one of the most natural and ecologically-sound re-livings of the past you could possibly imagine. But in this hyper-sensitive era, even the burning of humble turf is under scrutiny as a possible menace to our fragile planet, as is the digging of bogs. In the case of Kinvara, it’s something which poses a quandary, for the turf is cut by hand, piled to dry by hand, then moved to be laden by hand onto boats which are sailed by hand – and every bit of it is very hard work if you want to see it as work in the first place.

It’s shared work in a continuum from the land to the sea and back to the land again, and it is nature’s abundant wind which provides the motive power. So anyone who would wish to discourage the Kinvara experience from the turf-burning point of view needs to get a sense of proportion – after all, the Festival itself was promoting the plastic-free ideal as one of its main themes. But in any case we’re talking of turf amounts which are symbolic rather than of significant size, and we’re thinking that the meaning which this annual combination of actions and activities afloat and ashore gives to those involved is something very deep-rooted indeed, an eloquent expression of community.

cailin at mark4Naomh Cailin, skippered by Pat Folan, comes to the mark in style. She finished second overall in the Bad Mhora class. Photo: Pierce Purcell
Certainly it’s something which folk from elsewhere wish to share, bringing in crews and boats of other types from places beyond the sea, interesting boats like the comely Sally O’Keeffe from Querrin on the shores of the Shannon Estuary, a very attractive 25ft community-built cutter which is an authentic re-creation of the sailing working boats which used to ply the waters of the mighty Shannon Estuary.

sally okeeffe5The Sally OKeeffee had sailed round to Kinvara from the Shannon Estuary – on board are Fintan Ryan, Steve Morris and Dixie Collins. Photo: Pierce Purcell
padraic de Bhaldraithe mrs mouse6Galway Hooker Association Honorary Secretary Padraic de Bhaldraith at the helm of his gaff cutter Mrs Mouse, hewn from traditional glassfibre…..Photo: Pierce Purcell
Also there was the hefty ketch Celtic Mist, research vessel of the Irish Whale & Dolphin Group whose CEO Simon Berrow was on hand with a group of fellow-enthusiasts to spread the message and answer queries while SAR helicopters buzzed overhead and the Galway Lifeboat – crew and boat alike – were keenly represented for the two main days, and talked afterwards of the marvellous sense of community in Kinvara.

celtic mist7The Irish Whale & Dolphin Group’s much-travelled research vessel Celtic Mist was in Kinvara to spread the word
marieke huysman freedom8Marieke Huysman’s music-centre Freedom 40 ketch is a Gary Hoyt design. Her piano is set up on the after deck. Photo: Pierce Purcell
Meanwhile, a completely different yet equally appropriate aspect of seafaring was being provided by sea-musician Marieke Huysmans of PianOcean, whose piano was set up on the deck of her Freedom 40 type ketch, which aptly is called Freedom

But inevitably and rightly the attention is mainly on the hookers, which vary in sizes between at least four classes – some would say six – while no two boats are identical, for individuality is the default setting of the west. Presiding over all this was the empress of them all, Organising Committee Chairman Dr Mick Brogan”s giant hooker Mac Duach, which was originally built as a cutter, but at that size her main boom was such a widow-maker that in due course the good doctor made her a more manageable ketch, under which rig she has continued a busy programme of ocean and coastal voyaging and attending western maritime festivals.

galway bay map9A time-honoured sea trail. The turf is traditionally sailed up Galway Bay from small harbours in the rugged Glinsk region (top left) to the relatively gentle and very sheltered harbour of Kinvara (bottom right)
turf cargo10Very little room for the crew……An Mhaighdean Mhara is generously laden with turf as she makes speed from Connemara towards Kinvara. Photo: Iris Aniar
jimmy and colm11Hard-driving men – Jimmy Mac Donncha and Colm Ciaran O Flatharta getting the knots out of the turf-laden Mhaighdean Mhara as they approach Kinvara. Photo: Iris Aniar
mhaighdean at pier12 Safely in – An Mhaighdean Mhara has glided safely in to Kinvara pier, and the unloading of the cargo is under way. Photo: Iris Aniar
The main player in the symbolic bringing in of the turf was the mighty An Mhaighdean Mhara, built by McDonagh of Callahaigue in Connemara a very long time ago, re-built or partially re-built now and again since - as is the way of the west - and sailed with considerable style to Kinvara by Jimmy Mac Donncha aided by Colm Ciaran O Flatharta, and laden with such a pile of turf in what is usually the cockpit that the rest of the crew were finding what comfort they could on the foredeck as An Mhaighden Mhara shaped her course into Kinvara’s long natural harbour, gliding alongside the quay to begin the long and sweaty job of discharging the cargo by hand.

turf coming ashore13Not a job for the faint-hearted – all of An Mhaighdean Mhara’s cargo was to be unloaded by hand……..Photo: Iris Aniar

turf coming ashore14jpgThe rhythm of unloading is gathering speed and co-ordination. Photo: Iris Aniar
With the many and varied rituals completed or at least set in train, Sunday brought the racing, as hard fought as ever. As anyone who has ever tried to report on Galway hooker racing - whether at Kinvara or one of the traditional events in Connemara itself – there will be as many different versions of what happened during the race as there are people involved, for at times it cannot even be agreed within crews as to what happened or didn’t. Yet when they’re eventually published, there’s a finality about results which sets the story to rest, and we can do no more than publish them as they were – in due course – supplied to us.

mairtin obrien tonai15Pre-start tension. Defending champion in the Bad Mhora class An Tonai shaping in for the line, with Captain-General Mairtin O’Brian sizing up the situation with his chin on the rail, while Skipper Ronan O'Brien looks to the helming. Their defence of the title was successful. Photo: Pierce Purcell 

Cruinniu na mBad 2019 Results:

Bad Mhora: 1st Tonai, skippered by Ronan O’Brien; 2nd Cailin, sk. Pat Folan; 3rd An Mhaghdean Mhara, sk. Jimmy Mac Donncha

Leath-Bhaid: 1st Norah, sk. Sean Mac Donncha; 2nd Colmcille, sk. Mairtin Thornton; 3rd Antain, sk. Joe Reaney

Gleiteog Mor: 1st Catherine, sk. Paraic Barrett; 2nd Ciarain, sk. John Flaherty; 3rd An Bhantra, sk. Daragh O Tuairisc

Gleiteog Beag: 1st Erin’s Hope, sk. Pat Folan; 2nd Sianach, sk. Ciaran Mac Donncha, 3rd Nora Bheag, sk. Coilin Og Hernon.

The sport over, the sun appeared - and Kinvara partied.

kinvara sunshine16Finally, a bit of evening sunshine to round out the day. Photo: Pierce Purcell

Published in Historic Boats

#OnTV - A new four-part documentary series on the people of Ireland’s west who keep the Galway Hooker sailing tradition alive behind tomorrow night (Thursday 10 January) at 8pm on TG4.

Bádóirí provides an insight into seven Connemara families, part of one of the few indigenous communities of sailors left in Europe, as they compete to be champions of the Galway Hooker Association Racing League.

The first of four episodes screens tomorrow at 8pm and will be available to stream for viewers in Ireland on the TG4 Player.

Published in Maritime TV
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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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