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Displaying items by tag: IWDG

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has said it is “irresponsible to raise peoples' hopes” that a dolphin spotted off West Cork in recent days might be Dingle’s missing resident bottlenose, Fungie.

Cork Beo reported on Sunday (11 April) on video recorded off the Old Head of Kinsale of a playful solitary dolphin which has sparked optimism that Fungie has reappeared some six months since he vanished from Dingle Harbour, his home since 1983.

But the IWDG has moved to play down such hopes, reminding that bottlenose dolphins like Fungie “are abundant and widespread throughout Irish coastal waters”.

It added: “While the IWDG are surprised at this individual’s behaviour around the boat it was recently filmed from, it is way too early to speculate that this dolphin is Fungie.

“The IWDG have validated 13 sightings of bottlenose dolphins off the Irish coast already this month (April) from Co Kerry to Co Louth.”

The group is awaiting clearer images of the dolphin’s tail fluke or dorsal fin before it makes any confirmed identification.

“The IWDG feel it is irresponsible to raise peoples’ hopes that this might indeed be Fungie, while current evidence merely shows it to be a bottlenose dolphin behaving in an unexpected fashion,” it said.

It’s not the first video of a frolicking dolphin to cause a stir in recent weeks, as footage captured in Galway Bay last month raised hopes that Fungie had relocated along the West Coast.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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Viewers in Ireland have another chance to catch a fascinating documentary on a unique expedition to the Arctic Circle tracing the origins of Ireland’s annual humpback whale visitors.

Broadcast yesterday evening on RTÉ One, Ireland to Iceland - On the Trail of the Humpback Whale follows marine wildlife researchers and volunteers with the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) on their weeks-long passage to Ireland in search of humpback whales in 2018.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Tony Whelan’s film also charts the links that the Irish crew made with Iceland and the costal communities they met along the way.

Now the film is available to watch for 30 days for viewers in the Republic of Ireland on the RTÉ Player.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has warned the public to stay away from the final resting place of a humpback whale carcass that washed ashore in West Cork last month.

And according to the Southern Star, poor weather forecast for later this week has dampened hopes to potentially retrieve the marine wildlife remains for public display.

The carcass of the juvenile humpback whale is only the ninth recorded stranding of the species in Ireland, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

First spotted in the waters of Roaringwater Bay, it eventually came to rest on the rocky shore at the foot of steep bank at Colla West near Schull, where IWDG volunteers have examined the remains over the weeks since.

Plans had been mooted to preserve the skeleton as a potential tourism draw for the area, the IWDG’s Pádraig Whooley said, though this would be “at great expense”.

“Although the plan was tentative, if successful, it would be a wonderful opportunity because the only other humpback whale on display is in the Natural History Museum, and that dates back to 1893,” he added.

The Southern Star has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) won the tender to provide a marine mammal observer on three fisheries acoustic surveys with the Marine Institute this year.

These include a survey for blue whiting this month, the Western European Shelf Pelagic Acoustic (WESPAS) survey during June and July and the Celtic Sea Herring Acoustic Survey in October.

The aforementioned missions are annual stock assessment surveys and cover a huge area of the Irish EEZ.

Data on higher trophic predators such as marine mammals and seabirds are essential to provide the data to support the development of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management.

Experienced offshore surveyor Dr Justin Judge will be joining each cruise to record all sightings of whales and dolphins and other interesting endangered, threatened and protected (ETP) species, as well as recording the vessels’ track and environmental conditions.

He follows in the footsteps of Dave Wall, who used data collected from these annual surveys in 2014 to built the dataset to publish the first Offshore Atlas of Marine Mammal Distribution.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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Whale and dolphin strandings in Ireland for the first two months of 2021 have reached their highest peak yet with 93 records, as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) reports.

The bulk of these marine wildlife findings were common dolphins, with 64 in total discovered around the Irish coast since the beginning of the year.

“Although historically the IWDG have identified January to March as a peak stranding period for common dolphins, 2021 figures are already proving to be quite high compared to the same period in previous years,” says IWDG sightings officer Stephanie Levesque.

“This time last year, IWDG had received 70 records in total, of which 40 were common dolphins.”

The total figure comprises eight species: common, bottlenose, striped and Risso’s dolphins, harbour porpoise, long-finned pilot whale, minke whale and one rare record of a humpback whale, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Levesque adds: “There are most likely several factors affecting this increase in reported strandings, and although we are not sure exactly what is causing it, a number of factors must be taken into account.

“As the entire country found itself in lockdown, and was spending significantly more time walking the local shores during the peak stranding period, there was bound to be more reporting taking place.”

In addition, Levesque reports that the IWDG has had a high social media reach in recent months “and perhaps more people are inclined to report these strandings”.

There is also “increasing evidence of a broad-scale movement of common dolphins from deep offshore waters into shelf edge waters” within the North-East Atlantic.

“IWDG sightings officer Pádraig Whooley has noted more common dolphin sightings reported off the coast of Ireland this winter, and where you have more dolphins, it likely leads to more strandings,” Levesque adds.

Nearly one in 10 (9%) of recorded strandings between 1 January and 28 February have “gross signs of bycatch in rising gear” such as broken jaws, cut-off tails and dorsal fin tips, and being entangled in fishing gear.

“This is likely to be a minimum as diagnosing bycatch can be quite difficult if the lesions are more subtle, or drowning has taken place with no external lesions,” Levesque says.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) says it welcomes the new public consultation on expanding Ireland’s Marine Protected Areas.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Government is aiming to have 30% of Ireland’s maritime area designated as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) by 2030.

Current coverage is just 2.13%, the IWDG says, adding that there is at present no definition of an MPA in Irish law.

“We wish to see Ireland achieve their international commitments and legal obligations, and create a truly ecologically coherent network of well-managed and well resourced MPAs, that is representative and connected,” says Sibéal Regan, the IWDG’s Education and Outreach Officer.

“In that case, it must be defined and underpinned by the appropriate legislation.”

It’s also hoped that expanding Ireland’s designated conservation areas for marine wildlife will protect core habitats from encroachment by human activity such as fishing.

Research commissioned by the IWDG has identified a number of hotspots for dolphins, porpoise and whales within Ireland’s 12-nautical-mile limit.

These have informed the group’s recommendations for potential MPA sites around the coast, available on the IWDG website here.

Published in Marine Wildlife

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) is seeking to recruit a Science Officer to join its core team based in the Shannon Dolphin Centre in Kilrush, Co Clare.

The Science Officer will be expected to work closely with the team in Kilrush and other officers in the IWDG; manage all IWDG archived data; identify relevant opportunities to collect and interpret data; contribute to conservation actions and policies; identify gaps in IWDG scientific knowledge and priorities for scientific research; and identify roles for the IWDG research vessel Celtic Mist.

Whoever assumes this role will also be encouraged to seek funding for research projects, and will contribute heavily to IWDG consulting, including desktop assessments and site fieldwork.

The successful applicant will have a strong scientific background and a track record of marine wildlife reseach, specifically cetacean research. The Science Officer will have practical experience of database management, good communication skills and knowledge of cetaceans in Ireland. Commercial fishing experience would be an asset, as would be knowledge of Marine Protected Areas.

Environmental consultancy experience is important as the successful candidate will also be contributing to consultancy outputs.

The contract will be for a maximum of three years, pending a successful annual review and the availability of funds. Salary will be commensurate with experience and qualifications and will align with recommendations for graduates in Ireland and is likely to be in the region of €30-40,000 per annum.

Applications including full CV should be sent to [email protected] with the subject line ‘Science Officer Position’ before 5pm on Friday 26 March.

Further details can be found on the IWDG website and interested candidates should contact [email protected] if they require more information.

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The carcass of a juvenile humpback whale washed ashore in West Cork is only the ninth such stranding of the species in Ireland, according to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG).

Sightings officer Pádraig Whooley confirmed from images of the marine wildlife specimen captured in Roaringwater Bay yesterday (Wednesday 24 February) that it was a juvenile male not previously recorded in Irish waters.

Such young whales are not unexpected close to our shores at this time of year, when adults of breeding age are either en route to or already at lower-latitude breeding sites such as Cabo Verde off West Africa.

“This is something that some young humpbacks can opt out of, as it’s a long track south to places like the Cabo Verde and with no hope of successfully breeding there is nothing much in it for them,” Whooley explains.

“So a cohort of young, independent humpbacks seem content to over winter at higher latitudes, where there is, or should be, plenty of food for them.”

In this case, however, Whooley says: “The images we’ve received so far suggest it is in rather thin condition and so it may not have fed for some time.

“There are no obvious signs of rope marks or net damage that may suggest entanglement in fishing gear, something that slow-swimming humpbacks that remain inshore are prone to. And there are no large traumas to suggest ship-strike. So as is so often the case, the circumstances underpinning this stranding are unclear.

“IWDG hope in the coming days to visit the site to take detailed measurements and get skin and blubber samples which can be used for genetics, contaminants and stable isotope analyses.”

Whooley adds that the IWDG is in liaison with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) regarding examination of the carcass and its disposal, but suggests that because of its remote location “there is no strong case for removal”.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has announced a new educational resource for young and aspiring marine science experts.

Ireland’s Blubber Book: Flukes Junior Vol 1 is a comprehensive workbook on cetaceans – the marine wildlife family comprising whales, dolphins and porpoise – found in Irish waters for primary school children aged between 9-12.

The new resource was created to support support the aims of the National Strategy on Education for Sustainable Development by IWDG education and outreach officer Sibéal Regan and illustrated by the talented John Joyce and Jim Wilson.⁠

“We believe that the first step in becoming an ocean literate and informed society, starts with our youngest citizens,” the IWDG says in its introduction to the resource.

It adds that the workbook “will motivate and empower them throughout their lives to become informed active citizens, who take action for a more sustainable blue future”.

Teachers can use Ireland’s Blubber Book in a classroom setting, by going through the content and worksheets themselves.

But the IWDG is also offering to facilitate virtual workshops “making the experience even more interactive and engaging”.

Interested schools can contact Sibéal Regan at [email protected] to enquire about using this new book in their classroom.

It will also be available from the IWDG shop and will have its official launch online on the IWDG Facebook page next Thursday 28 January at 11am.

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The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group’s annual conference is moving online — and broadcasting live from West Clare next Saturday 12 December.

Whale Tales is the annual meeting of the IWDG, where members and people interested in whales, dolphins and porpoises in Ireland are invited to join in a shared appreciation and admiration of these charismatic examples of marine wildlife.

This year, due to coronavirus restrictions. Whale Tales 2020 will be a virtual meeting, with a panel of local speakers calling in from the IWDG head office in Kilrush as well as special guests from further afield.

Among them will be Joy Reidenberg, from the hit TV programme Inside Nature’s Giants, who will discuss the topic of large whale necropsies and what we can learn from them.

In the afternoon, Mags Daly of the Shannon Dolphin Project will tell tales of her favourite mammals and share some of her stories from the Shannon Estuary this summer.

Registration is free for all who want to join in, but donations are welcome to support the IWDG in its recording and conservation efforts.

The full programme of events, including details of how to book your virtual spot, can be found on the IWDG website HERE.

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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