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Displaying items by tag: Rare Marine Species

Sightings of rare marine species will increase Ireland’s “scientific and biological knowledge bank”, the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) has said in an appeal during Science Week.

The SFPA says it is encouraging the public - and particularly those in the fishing community - to get involved in its ongoing efforts to build up that knowledge bank on Ireland’s marine life as part of overall conservation efforts.

Biologist and SFPA senior port officer in Howth Declan Quigley, says that although 577 species have been recorded to date in Irish seas, more information is sought as part of conservation monitoring efforts

Quigley is author of over 450 fisheries-related papers.

A recent UN Food and Agricultural (FAO) report highlighted that nearly a quarter of species monitored across the globe are at risk of overexploitation or on the verge of depletion, he notes.

Ireland is not alone in facing challenges in this area as once commonly sighted species such as skates and rays are now facing difficulties owing, in the main, to the impact of climate change, he says.

“Of the 33 recorded species of skates and rays in Irish waters, nine are currently regarded as threatened and a further six as near threatened,” Quigley says.

“Tracking this decline is a challenge and one of the main difficulties in assessing the on-going conservation status, specifically of threatened skates and rays, is the previous lack of reliable species-specific data,”he says.

“ Commercial fishers, recreational anglers, citizen scientists, and public aquaria have a very important role to play in contributing to the conservation of these threatened species in Irish waters,” he adds.

“In addition to surveying patterns in declining fish species, the public is being asked to keep a look-out for species new to Irish waters because much of the current knowledge bank relates to ‘over the counter fish species’ in fishmongers and supermarkets and fished commercially,” the SFPA says.

“We really want to build our knowledge base around the non-commercial fish species in Irish waters and to establish the biology behind these species of fish that are an important part of our national marine biodiversity and of the overall marine ecosystems,” Quigley said.

“There is a wonderful opportunity for people, who regularly explore our coastline, for those who are in our seas such as the recreational scuba divers, not to mention our 2,000 strong commercial fishing community and nearly half a million recreational fisheries to be part of this great initiative to map and record what species are visiting our shores. Their contributions will complement the work of Ireland’s marine scientists,”he says.

The SFPA can be contacted at

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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!