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Green Rebel Marine in Crosshaven is set to undertake a geophysical survey operation in the Celtic Sea from next week.

The survey from next Wednesday 26 May to 23 June, weather permitting, will be conducted by the Roman Rebel (callsign 2ICA5) using hull-mounted multibeam and sub-bottom profiling systems.

In addition, the vessel will be towing side-scan sonars and magnetometers using dedicated winches at cable lengths dictated by the water depth. Typically, the cable lengths will be about four times the water depth while acquiring data.

The Roman Rebel will display appropriate lights and signals and all survey operations will be conducted 24 hours a day, continuous over day and night.

Full details of coordinates of the survey areas are included in Marine Notice No 32 of 2021, which can be downloaded below.

Published in Coastal Notes

A seabed debris clearance, environmental baseline and habitat assessment site survey will take place in licence SEL 1/11 (Barryroe) from later this month.

Barryroe is located in the North Celtic Sea, some 50 kilometres south of the Port of Cork.

The project is scheduled to commence in mid-August 2019 with the survey vessel Kommandor (callsign MCJO2) anticipated to be working on location for 16 days, excluding transit and any weather delays

Survey operations will be conducted on a 24-hour basis in different phases to include towed and non-towed operations. A fisheries liaison Officer will be on board for the duration of the survey.

Throughout the survey operations, the vessel will be displaying appropriate shapes and lights to indicate that the survey vessel is restricted in its ability to manoeuvre.

All vessels are requested to give this operation a wide berth. A listening watch will be maintained on VHF Channel 16, and the vessel will actively transmit an AIS signal.

Full details of the site survey co-ordinates are included in Marine Notice No 27 of 2019, a PDF of which is available to read or download HERE.

Published in Offshore

A shark species previously unrecorded in Irish waters has been sighted in the Celtic Sea.

A smooth hammerhead shark was reported on the edge of the continental shelf, south-west of Ireland, during a recent fisheries survey on the Marine Institute’s RV Celtic Explorer.

The sighting was made by experienced marine mammal observer John Power and bird observer Paul Connaughton during the Marine Institute’s Western European Shelf Pelagic Acoustic Survey (WESPAS).

“While scanning the ocean surface, we sighted a dorsal fin unlike anything we had encountered before,” said Power.

“It was quite different to the fins seen on basking sharks and blue sharks. After consulting available ID keys, we agreed that the shark must be a smooth hammerhead.”

The large, tall and slender dorsal fin of the smooth hammerhead shark distinguishes it from other shark species. The smooth hammerhead also has a single-notch in the centre of its rounded head and is up to four metres in length.

The species gives birth to live young and the pups are usually found in the shallow sandy waters near Florida, the Caribbean and West Africa. However, the species has been recorded as far north as England and Wales.

The smooth hammerhead was sighted during the WESPAS survey, which surveys the waters from France to Scotland and the West of Ireland each year.

Marine scientists collect acoustic and biological data on herring, boarfish and horse mackerel, which is used to provide an independent measure of these fish stocks in Irish waters. Scientists also monitor plankton, sea birds and marine mammals during this survey.

This is an exciting encounter, especially since a rare deep-water shark nursery was discovered by Irish scientists last year

Dr Paul Connolly, director of fisheries and ecosystems services at the Marine Institute, said: “Our Irish waters support a range of marine life and diverse ecosystems, including 35 known species of sharks.

“This is an exciting encounter, especially since a rare deep-water shark nursery, 200 miles west of Ireland, was discovered by Irish scientists last year using the Marine Institute's Remotely Operated Vehicle [ROV Holland 1].”

He added: “This sighting of a new shark species shows the importance of our fishery surveys to monitor our marine environment, and to observe changes in our oceans and marine ecosystems.

“Observing and understanding a changing ocean, is essential for protecting and managing our marine ecosystems for the future.”

The hammerhead shark poses little risk to humans, and there have been no known fatalities from hammerhead sharks anywhere in the world to date.

The species is listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, and is being increasingly targeted for the shark fin trade as its large fins are highly valued.

Thirty-five species of sharks have been recorded in Irish waters, including the blue shark, porbeagle shark, lesser spotted dogfish and the second-largest shark in the world, the basking shark — a regular visitor inshore during the summer months.

Published in Sharks

#MarineWildlife - Naval Service personnel on patrol with the LÉ Samuel Beckett encountered the carcass of a large whale some 50 nautical miles south-east of Ballycotton Lighthouse in the days after Christmas.

The “mystery whale” is neither a sighting (which only counts or living cetaceans) nor a stranding. But as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) says, the encounter “serves to remind us that the animals that wash up on our shoreline may represent only a small percentage of the total number of cetaceans that expire at sea of presumably natural causes.”

IWDG sightings officer Pádraig Whooley said the location of these whale remains was “interesting as this area of the Celtic Sea has produced the most consistent large-whale sightings in recent months, with fairly regular sightings of fin whales from land-based sites between Ram Head, Ardmore extending east towards the Hook Head lighthouse.”

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineScience - Marine Institute's RV Celtic Explorer departed Galway yesterday for the first deepwater INFOMAR survey of 2018 to map the seabed in the region of the Labadie and Cockburn Banks, south of the Celtic Sea.

These areas are of ecological and economic value to the Irish fishing fleet and the data collected will allow better fisheries management decisions.

INFOMAR, the national seabed mapping programme, is a joint programme between the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) and Marine Institute. INFOMAR creates bathymetric charts and products for Ireland's coastal and deeper offshore waters using acoustic sonars called multi-beams. The survey team will be led by Vera Quinlan, and include four INFOMAR surveyors / scientists and four marine science students.

Three multi-beam echo sounders on the marine research vessel will transmit beams of sound towards the sea floor. These 'beams of sound' are reflected off the sea floor and both the time it takes to receive the returned signal and the intensity are captured by the on-board systems. This process provides a very clear picture of the shape and texture of the seafloor, such as the bathymetry, and the geological characteristics of the area.

Further studies include the analysis of the radiation patterns of the sonars resulting in increased precision and improved data. This is part of a long-running collaboration between INFOMAR and Professor John Hughes Clarke at the Centre for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of NewINFOMAR survey to map the Celtic Sea seabed Hampshire.

The survey team includes two students from the United States of America, Alexandra Dawson and Treyson Gillespie, from the BEAMS (BEnthic Acoustic Mapping and Survey) Program. BEAMS is an undergraduate-focused training and research program from the College of Charleston's Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences, and aims to develop a strong and qualified workforce of ocean surveyors in support of the academic, research and operational marine communities.

INFOMAR also welcomes Becky Cronin and Rachel O' Mahoney from the Training Through Research Surveys (TTRS), a collaboration with the Marine Institute. The programme aims to increase national capacity in offshore marine research by offering seagoing placements for students of marine related sciences and technologies on the national research vessels, RV Celtic Explorer and RV Celtic Voyager.

Follow INFOMAR on Facebook and Twitter for updates from the INFOMAR survey team. Also follow [email protected] blog for some blogs during the survey.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineNotice - The latest Marine Notice from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) has been advised that a hydrographic and geophysical survey operation will be undertaken by INFOMAR for the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) off the Mayo coast, in the Celtic Sea and also in the Irish Sea between 21 March and 30 October 2016.

The RV Celtic Voyager (Callsign EIQN), the RV Celtic Explorer (Callsign EIGB), the RV Keary (Callsign EIGO9), the RV Geo (Callsign EIDK6) and the RV Tonn (Callsign: EIPT7) are expected to carry out survey operations and will be listening on VHF Channel 16 throughout the project.

Details of co-ordinates for the survey operations are included in Marine Notice No 11 of 2016, a PDF of which is available to read or download HERE.

Published in Marine Warning

#MarineNotice - The latest Marine Notice from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) advises that Osiris Projects were last week scheduled to begin marine survey operations off the south coast in the Celtic Sea.

The marine surveys will extend from the shoreline at two locations in Co Cork across the sea to the shoreline at two locations in northern France.

The survey was set to start on Monday 1 June 2015 to last for approximately three weeks, weather permitting. The survey will be conducted by the MV Proteus (Callsign 2HBL7).

The marine surveys will extend from the shoreline at Ballinwilling Strand (main route) and Ballycroneen Beach (alternative route), across the Celtic Sea, passing the Isles of Scilly, to the French coast west of Roscoff at Moguériec (main route) and Pontusval (alternative route).

The corridor width for each landing will be 250 metres from the high water mark to the 10-metre contour, then the corridor will widen to 500m as the route moves to France.

The survey vessel may be found running both along the corridor, and in the general vicinity of the survey corridor. The survey areas are small boxes which are shown in the detail plan HERE.

Survey operations will involve towing survey equipment on and below the water surface, up to 300m behind the vessel. All vessels, particularly those engaged in fishing, are requested to give the MV Proteus and her towed equipment a wide berth and keep a sharp lookout in the relevant areas.

Full co-ordinates for the relevant work areas are detailed in Marine Notice No 25 of 2015, a PDF of which is available to read or download HERE.

Published in Marine Warning

#Oil&Gas - Kinsale Energy will take an 80% stake in Landsdowne Oil and Gas's Midleton/East Kinsale gas prospect in the Celtic Sea, as The Irish Times reports.

The deal will see the Petronas subsidiary assume 100% of costs for drilling on the prospect and will fund Lansdowne's costs of testing for up to $2.5 million.

Kinsale Energy, which was formerly Marathon Oil, already holds an interest in the Deep Kinsale Prospect beneath the Kinsale Head Gas Field, thanks to its option agreement with Fastnet Oil & Gas last year.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#Fishing - Marine Minister Simon Coveney yesterday (10 November) held a bilateral meeting with the new French Fisheries Minister Alain Vidalies in Brussels.

The meeting was organised to prepare for negotiations on the 2015 fish quotas which will be decided at the Fisheries Council on 15 and 16 December.

This was the first meeting between Minister Coveney and Minister Vidalies.

“France and Ireland have important shared fisheries in the Celtic Sea," said Minister Coveney. "I met Minister Vidalies to discuss with him the issues of importance relating to the management of these fisheries.

"I pointed out that the Irish and French fishing industries have a strong working relationship and that I wanted to ensure that this relationship is fully reflected at political level.”

The minister added: “There are particular issues arising in the Celtic Sea and our industries have worked together to bring forward measures to increase selectivity and reduce discarding of young fish. The EU Commission has proposed very severe quota cuts to the key cod and haddock fisheries.

"I agreed with Minister Vidalies that we will work closely over the coming weeks to secure agreement to a package of measures involving improved selectivity measures and set quota levels that  take into account the most up to date scientific advice.“

The EU Commission has published its proposals for Total Allowable Catches and quotas for 2015. The commission has proposed a 64% quota cut for Celtic Sea cod for 2015 and a 41% cut for haddock in the Celtic Sea. The EU Commission has yet to make its proposal for the Celtic Sea whiting and prawn quotas for 2015.

Submissions from all stakeholders have been sought by 21 November to inform a Sustainability Impact Assessment which will be presented to the Oireachtas by Minister Coveney on 2 December. 

Published in Fishing
Tagged under

#MarineNotice - The latest Marine Notice from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport advises that Osiris Projects will be carrying out two survey operations along the proposed interconnector route between Ireland and France.

The surveys will extend from the Shoreline at two locations in Co Cork (Ballinwilling Strand main route and Ballycroneen Beach alternative route) across the Celtic Sea to the shoreline at two locations in Northern France (Roscoff main route and Pontusval alternative route).

The first survey operation started on 17 August and is expected to run until 30 September, weather permitting. Survey works will be undertaken on the survey vessel RRS Ernest Shackleton (Callsign ZDLSI).

The vessel will operate on a 24-hour basis, will display appropriate day shapes and lights during survey operations and will actively transmit an AIS signal.

The RRS Ernest Shackleton will be towing survey equipment below the surface up to 600m behind the vessel. A wide berth is requested at all times as the vessel will be restricted in her ability to manoeuvre.

The second survey operation was expected to start on the Irish side yesterday (10 September) and will run until 20 September, weather permitting. Survey works will be undertaken on the survey vessel MV Proteus (Callsign 2HBL7).

The vessel will operate on a 12-hour basis, will display appropriate day shapes and lights during survey operations and will actively transmit an AIS signal.

The corridor width for each landing will be 250 metres from the high water mark to the 10-metre contour, then the corridor will widen to 500 metres as the route moves to France.

The survey vessel may be found running both along the corridor and in the general vicinity of the survey corridor. The vessel will be working between high water and 20 metre contour and in daylight hours only.

The MV Proteus will be towing survey equipment on and below the water surface up to 300m behind the vessel. A wide berth is requested at all times as the vessel will be restricted in her ability to manoeuvre.

Both vessels will be listening on VHF Channel 16 throughout the works. Full details of co-ordinates of the work areas are included in Marine Notice No 55 of 2014, a PDF of which is available to read or download HERE.

Meanwhile, a hydrographic and geophysical survey operation is presently being undertaken by INFOMAR on the RV Celtic Voyager off the southwest coast of Ireland, continuing till 17 September.

The vessel is towing a magnetometer sensor with a single cable of up to 100m in length. A wide berth is requested at all times as the vessel will be restricted in her ability to manoeuvre.

The vessel will display appropriate lights and markers, and will be listening on VHF Channel 16 throughout the project.

Co-ordinates for the bounding box of the survey area are detailed in Marine Notice No 54 of 2014, a PDF of which is available to read or download HERE.

Published in Marine Warning
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Sharks in Irish waters

Irish waters are home to 71 species of shark, skates and rays, 58 of which have been studied in detail and listed on the Ireland Red List of Cartilaginous fish. Irish sharks range from small Sleeper sharks, Dogfish and Catsharks, to larger species like Frilled, Mackerel and Cow sharks, all the way to the second largest shark in the world, the Basking shark. 

Irish waters provide a refuge for an array of shark species. Tralee Bay, Co. Kerry provides a habitat for several rare and endangered sharks and their relatives, including the migratory tope shark, angel shark and undulate ray. This area is also the last European refuge for the extremely rare white skate. Through a European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) project, Marine Institute scientists have been working with fishermen to assess the distribution, diversity, and monthly relative abundance of skates and rays in Tralee, Brandon and Dingle Bays.

“These areas off the southwest coast of Ireland are important internationally as they hold some of the last remaining refuges for angel shark and white skate,” said Dr Maurice Clarke of the Marine Institute. “This EMFF project has provided data confirming the critically endangered status of some species and provides up-to-date information for the development of fishery measures to eliminate by-catch.” 

Irish waters are also home to the Black Mouthed Catshark, Galeus melastomus, one of Ireland’s smallest shark species which can be found in the deep sea along the continental shelf. In 2018, Irish scientists discovered a very rare shark-nursery 200 nautical miles off the west coast by the Marine Institute’s ROV Holland 1 on a shelf sloping to 750 metres deep. 

There are two ways that sharks are born, either as live young or from egg casings. In the ‘case’ of Black Mouthed Catsharks, the nursery discovered in 2018, was notable by the abundance of egg casings or ‘mermaid’s purses’. Many sharks, rays and skate lay eggs, the cases of which often wash ashore. If you find an egg casing along the seashore, take a photo for Purse Search Ireland, a citizen science project focusing on monitoring the shark, ray and skate species around Ireland.

Another species also found by Irish scientists using the ROV Holland 1 in 2018 was a very rare type of dogfish, the Sail Fin Rough Shark, Oxynotus paradoxus. These sharks are named after their long fins which resemble the trailing sails of a boat, and live in the deep sea in waters up to 750m deep. Like all sharks, skates and rays, they have no bones. Their skeleton is composed of cartilage, much like what our noses and ears are made from! This material is much more flexible and lighter than bone which is perfect for these animals living without the weight of gravity.

Throughout history sharks have been portrayed as the monsters of the sea, a concept that science is continuously debunking. Basking sharks were named in 1765 as Cetorhinus maximus, roughly translated to the ‘big-nosed sea monster’. Basking sharks are filter feeders, often swimming with their mouths agape, they filter plankton from the water.

They are very slow moving and like to bask in the sun in shallow water and are often seen in Irish waters around Spring and early Summer. To help understand the migration of these animals to be better able to understand and conserve these species, the Irish Basking Shark Group have tagged and mapped their travels.

Remarkably, many sharks like the Angel Shark, Squatina squatina have the ability to sense electricity. They do this via small pores in their skin called the ‘Ampullae of Lorenzini’ which are able to detect the tiny electrical impulses of a fish breathing, moving or even its heartbeat from distances of over a kilometre! Angel sharks, often referred to as Monkfish have a distinctively angelic shape, with flattened, large fins appearing like the wings of an angel. They live on the seafloor in the coastal waters of Ireland and much like a cat are nocturnal, primarily active at night.

The intricate complexity of shark adaptations is particularly noticeable in the texture of their skin. Composed of miniscule, perfectly shaped overlapping scales, the skin of shark provides them with protection. Often shark scales have been compared to teeth due to their hard enamel structure. They are strong, but also due to their intricate shape, these scales reduce drag and allow water to glide past them so that the shark can swim more effortlessly and silently. This natural flawless design has been used as inspiration for new neoprene fabric designs to help swimmers glide through the water. Although all sharks have this feature, the Leafscale Gulper Shark, Centrophorus squamosus, found in Ireland are specifically named due to the ornate leaf-shape of their scales.

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