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Dublin Bay Boating News and Information

Displaying items by tag: IWDG

A humpback whale regularly spotted in Ireland’s South West has been traced to Norwegian waters in the first confirmed link between our two countries, according to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG).

Researchers and citizen scientists in the Happywhale collective made the discovery last week as they matched images of #HBIRL43 — first recorded in Ireland in 2015 — with a whale sighted in the waters of the High Arctic in the vicinity of the Svalbard arcipelago.

“This is our first international re-sighting of this individual who was the first humpback recorded this season off the Stag Rocks in West Cork,” IWDG sightings officer Pádraig Whooley says.

“We documented it this spring/summer on four occasions between 27 April and 6 June. This match suggests it travelled a minimum distance of 3,800km over a period of 75 days, a daily average of 50km.

File image of HBIRL43 sighted off off Toe Head in West Cork | Credit: Dan LetticeFile image of HBIRL43 sighted off off Toe Head in West Cork | Credit: Dan Lettice

“This sighting puts it circa 900km further north of the last known position of #HBIRL07 and is our only humpback to be recorded in what we’d term the High Arctic.”

It wasn’t the only remarkable news this week, as Whooley confirms that another Norwegian whale, #NA09849 — which has been sighted regularly off Tromso and Iceland over the last decade — was photographed this past June some 500km west of the Aran Islands.

“We’ve decided that, as this animal was so far offshore and well outside the Irish EEZ in international waters, for now anyway we’d keep it off the Irish catalogue,” he says.

“But it’s another important link to Norway and who knows just how useful these offshore encounters may prove to be in years to come as IWDG continue to unravel the mystery of this most iconic of our whales.”

Published in Marine Wildlife

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) says last Sunday 29 August will stand out as “particularly memorable” for sightings of humpback whales, with the marine wildlife giants spotted at four separate locations.

At Slea Head in Co Kerry, Jimmy Flannery of Dingle Sea Safari and Nick Massett located and identified #HBIRL107 just south of Crow Rock.

Shortly afterwards, Eoin Delaney was sea kayaking off Carraroe in Connemara when he happened upon a humpback feeding in among common dolphins.

“While we can’t get a positive ID on this individual, any humpback sighting record from Galway Bay is an important event,” IWDG sightings officer Pádraig Whooley says.

Map of humpback whale sightings off Ireland on Sunday 29 AugustMap of humpback whale sightings off Ireland on Sunday 29 August | Credit: IWDG

Later on Sunday afternoon, Colin Barnes of Cork Whale Watch was on his second trip of the day when he photographed a third humpback breaching close to the cliffs at Scullane Point. This turned to be a new humpback not previously recorded in any Irish waters, and it has been allocated the ID #HBIRL113.

Slightly further away, a pelagic birding voyage off the Isles of Scilly crossed paths with #HBIRL77, a humpback that’s been documented in Ireland’s West and South West coastal waters every year since it was first recorded in 2016 — most recently off the Blaskets in June.

“These encounters and re-sightings are important, as they help IWDG build a more complete picture that reveals how these humpbacks are using Irish and adjacent waters,” Whooley says.

The sightings officer also appealed for anyone “fortunate enough to have an encounter with this most charismatic of our whales” to get in touch with [email protected] with a photograph of the ventral surface of their tail fluke, which is the most effective way for the IWDG to confirm identity.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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A local community in eastern Co Mayo rallied to attempt to save as many as 13 common dolphins that live-stranded near Blacksod on Friday (13 August).

As Mayo IWDG’s Facebook reports, the family group comprising 13 dolphins — mainly mothers and calves with a large male — stranded at Tarmon Beach with the tide dropping.

Sadly three of the dolphins died before they could be helped, but the rest responded to being cooled with buckets of seawater by local volunteers assisting the area’s Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) members.

As the tide was still dropping for over an hour, it was quickly decided to move the dolphins 2km by road to the slipway at Blacksod where they could be more easily immersed and cared for.

The local IWDG team used their new wheeled dolphin stretcher to transport the larger marine wildlife to a horse box, while the juveniles were carried in beach towels.

Once carefully released back into the water, all were seen to swim quickly and without obvious distress, and by 9pm the pod had left the area.

“Tarmon and the surrounding beaches on the east side of the Mullet Peninsula are notorious for common dolphins live-stranding due to the topography of the beaches,” Mayo IWDG said.

“The beaches are large flat expanses so during spring tides especially, the water can level can drop uniformly and recede up to 1km in parts. Common dolphins being an offshore dolphin species often get caught out on such difficult-to-navigate shallow terrain.

“When a dolphin live-strands it puts immense pressure on their bodies. They can become very disorientated and have muscle spasms from the stranding event making it difficult to swim, which is why this group were given recovery time at Blacksod before being released.

“Thanks again to everyone who helped out today; it was so humbling to see everyone work together to get this pod back to the sea.”

Juvenile dolphins cooled down with wet towels and seaweed were given recovery time with their pod before release | Credit: Mayo IWDG/FacebookJuvenile dolphins cooled down with wet towels and seaweed were given recovery time with their pod before release | Credit: Mayo IWDG/Facebook

Elsewhere, the IWDG reports on two separate strandings of Sowerby’s beaked whales in Co Galway. The first was found washed up on Inisbofin at the end of the week while the second was reported yesterday (Saturday 14 August) across the water in Cleggan.

Commenting on the former report, the IWDG said: “Beaked whales are not stranded that frequently but this individual had evidence of rope marks on its body.

“As [they are] an offshore deep-diving species we don’t expect beaked whales to get entangled in fishing gear or interact with offshore activity.

“Maybe these rope marks were not from fishing but some other source. Hard to tell, but without a full post-mortem examination the cause of death will remain speculative.”

Published in Marine Wildlife

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) is backing Limerick sailor Peter Lawlesspending solo, non-stop round-the-world voyage on his Rival 41 yacht Waxwing.

While the charity has sponsored the yacht’s passive self-steering equipment, in return Peter — son of the late solo circumnavigator Pat Lawless — will be testing out the IWDG’s new reporting app for marine wildlife sightings.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, sightings and strandings can be reported on the new app by scientists, researchers, boat operators, wildlife enthusiasts and whale-watchers alike.

And Peter — who sets off from Kilrush on 21 August — aims to take the app into the unknown, potentially recoding sightings and even video updated from parts of the ocean that may have never been visited before.

The IWDG’s chief Simon Berrow recently caught up with Peter on Waxwing as he makes his final preparations for his remarkable unassisted voyage:

Published in Solo Sailing

A recent rare sighting of a blue whale off the west of Ireland is the first in six years, it’s been reported.

Last weekend the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) shared an image of what’s believed to be a blue whale surfacing, as captured by Declan Horan from the the RV Celtic Explorer some 320km west of Slyne Head.

“Although we know from acoustic monitoring during the ObSERVE acoustic project that blue whales occur regularly along the western seaboard during autumn and winter, they are very rarely observed,” the IWDG said.

The Irish Mirror reports that this is the first confirmed sighting of a blue whale in Irish waters in six years — and only the 18th recorded since 2008.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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The remains of a whale washed up on a Co Wexford beach are likely to be those of a minke whale, the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) says.

According to The Irish Times, the dead whale was discovered on Blackhall Strand in southwest Wexford yesterday morning, Sunday 13 June.

Going by its description, IWDG sightings officer Pádraig Whooley said it was most likely a minke whale. Wexford County Council said it was appraising the situation, and The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Meanwhile, the IWDG has just published a new guide on what to do when encountering a live-stranded whale, dolphin or porpoise.

Along with details on how to assess and care for the animal, Face to Face with a Beached Whale also includes practical information on dealing with other marine wildlife including turtles, seals, otters and seabirds.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) says it has confirmed its first humpback whale match between Ireland’s waters and the Canary Islands.

Images of a fluke and dorsal fin captured by Alex Brenner at Valle Gran Rey on La Gomera were, with the help of Nick Massett, compared with those of a humpback photographed by IWDG member Simon Duggan at Baltimore in early December 2012.

“On matching the images we can confirm that this is indeed the same individual #HBIRL21, whom we’ve not recorded in Irish waters over the interim nine years,” the IWDG says.

The development marks an important new connection between Ireland and the Spanish island chain off north-west Africa, following earlier links confirmed with key humpback whale breeding grounds off Cape Verde further south.

Published in Marine Wildlife

A new marine mammal reporting “app” promises to “elevate” recording of whales, dolphins and porpoises in these waters.

Sightings and strandings can be reported on the new “app” by scientists, researchers, boat operators, wildlife enthusiasts and whale watchers, the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group says.

The technology can take the observer logically through the steps necessary for the reporting of both sightings (casual and effort) and strandings (live and dead), the NGO says.

Earlier this week, it was confirmed that over 2,000 people had signed an online petition calling for legal protection for basking sharks in these waters.

The petition was aimed at encouraging TDs to support The Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2021 tabled last week by Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore.

The bill may make it illegal for anyone to intentionally or recklessly injure, disturb or harass the second-largest fish in the world’s oceans.

Basking sharks are an endangered species, but don’t enjoy the same protection in law as whales, dolphins, porpoise and seals in Irish waters.

IWDG co-ordinator Dr Simon Berrow says: Ireland and its coastal communities have “historically benefited from basking shark fisheries and today we have a duty to provide protection for this highly mobile species when they occupy Irish territorial waters."

The new biological recording tool for cetaceans is being rolled out to coincide with National Biodiversity week.

The IWDG Reporting App has been developed by Compass Informatics and funded by LEADER through the Clare Local Development Company (CLDC).

It will be available to download from today on the App store for iPhones, and the Google Play store for Android.

The Reporting App also links to the iwdg.ie website which offers “seamless browsing of the IWDG’s sightings and stranding datasets with online mapping”.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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More than 2,000 people have already signed an online petition in support of legal protection for basking sharks in Irish waters.

The appeal was started by Simon Berrow of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group to encourage TDs to support The Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2021 tabled last week by Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the bill would make it illegal for anyone to intentionally or recklessly injure, disturb or harass the second-largest fish in the world’s oceans.

While basking sharks are an endangered species, they are currently not afforded the same protections in law as whales, dolphins, porpoise and seals in Irish waters.

Berrow says: "Ireland and our coastal communities have historically benefited from basking shark fisheries and today we have a duty to provide protection for this highly mobile species when they occupy Irish territorial waters."

He adds: "Adding the species to Schedule Five of the Wildlife Act (1976) as amended is the simplest method to provide protection for the species in Irish territorial waters."

Find the petition at MyUplift HERE.

Published in Sharks
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Offshore renewables must not be pursued at the cost of Ireland’s biodiversity, an Oireachtas committee has been told.

According to The Irish Times, members of the Oireachtas Committee on Climate Change heard statements from various environmental and conservation groups who explained how Ireland’s waters and coastal areas are under threat from the effects of climate change as well as pollution and invasive species.

Ellen MacMahon of the Sustainable Water Network noted the important role of wind energy in decarbonising the Irish economy.

But she added that “marine protected areas are often overlooked in the role they can play in addressing the twin climate and biodiversity emergencies”.

Her comments were echoed by Dr Simon Berrow of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, who said offshore wind farms “cannot be considered in isolation” from their immediate environments and urged that such green energy projects are “not at further cost to Ireland’s already depleted marine habitats and species”.

The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Environment
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Dublin Bay

Dublin Bay on the east coast of Ireland stretches over seven kilometres, from Howth Head on its northern tip to Dalkey Island in the south. It's a place most Dubliners simply take for granted, and one of the capital's least visited places. But there's more going on out there than you'd imagine.

The biggest boating centre is at Dun Laoghaire Harbour on the Bay's south shore that is home to over 1,500 pleasure craft, four waterfront yacht clubs and Ireland's largest marina.

The bay is rather shallow with many sandbanks and rocky outcrops, and was notorious in the past for shipwrecks, especially when the wind was from the east. Until modern times, many ships and their passengers were lost along the treacherous coastline from Howth to Dun Laoghaire, less than a kilometre from shore.

The Bay is a C-shaped inlet of the Irish Sea and is about 10 kilometres wide along its north-south base, and 7 km in length to its apex at the centre of the city of Dublin; stretching from Howth Head in the north to Dalkey Point in the south. North Bull Island is situated in the northwest part of the bay, where one of two major inshore sandbanks lie, and features a 5 km long sandy beach, Dollymount Strand, fronting an internationally recognised wildfowl reserve. Many of the rivers of Dublin reach the Irish Sea at Dublin Bay: the River Liffey, with the River Dodder flow received less than 1 km inland, River Tolka, and various smaller rivers and streams.

Dublin Bay FAQs

There are approximately ten beaches and bathing spots around Dublin Bay: Dollymount Strand; Forty Foot Bathing Place; Half Moon bathing spot; Merrion Strand; Bull Wall; Sandycove Beach; Sandymount Strand; Seapoint; Shelley Banks; Sutton, Burrow Beach

There are slipways on the north side of Dublin Bay at Clontarf, Sutton and on the southside at Dun Laoghaire Harbour, and in Dalkey at Coliemore and Bulloch Harbours.

Dublin Bay is administered by a number of Government Departments, three local authorities and several statutory agencies. Dublin Port Company is in charge of navigation on the Bay.

Dublin Bay is approximately 70 sq kilometres or 7,000 hectares. The Bay is about 10 kilometres wide along its north-south base, and seven km in length east-west to its peak at the centre of the city of Dublin; stretching from Howth Head in the north to Dalkey Point in the south.

Dun Laoghaire Harbour on the southside of the Bay has an East and West Pier, each one kilometre long; this is one of the largest human-made harbours in the world. There also piers or walls at the entrance to the River Liffey at Dublin city known as the Great North and South Walls. Other harbours on the Bay include Bulloch Harbour and Coliemore Harbours both at Dalkey.

There are two marinas on Dublin Bay. Ireland's largest marina with over 800 berths is on the southern shore at Dun Laoghaire Harbour. The other is at Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club on the River Liffey close to Dublin City.

Car and passenger Ferries operate from Dublin Port to the UK, Isle of Man and France. A passenger ferry operates from Dun Laoghaire Harbour to Howth as well as providing tourist voyages around the bay.

Dublin Bay has two Islands. Bull Island at Clontarf and Dalkey Island on the southern shore of the Bay.

The River Liffey flows through Dublin city and into the Bay. Its tributaries include the River Dodder, the River Poddle and the River Camac.

Dollymount, Burrow and Seapoint beaches

Approximately 1,500 boats from small dinghies to motorboats to ocean-going yachts. The vast majority, over 1,000, are moored at Dun Laoghaire Harbour which is Ireland's boating capital.

In 1981, UNESCO recognised the importance of Dublin Bay by designating North Bull Island as a Biosphere because of its rare and internationally important habitats and species of wildlife. To support sustainable development, UNESCO’s concept of a Biosphere has evolved to include not just areas of ecological value but also the areas around them and the communities that live and work within these areas. There have since been additional international and national designations, covering much of Dublin Bay, to ensure the protection of its water quality and biodiversity. To fulfil these broader management aims for the ecosystem, the Biosphere was expanded in 2015. The Biosphere now covers Dublin Bay, reflecting its significant environmental, economic, cultural and tourism importance, and extends to over 300km² to include the bay, the shore and nearby residential areas.

On the Southside at Dun Laoghaire, there is the National Yacht Club, Royal St. George Yacht Club, Royal Irish Yacht Club and Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club as well as Dublin Bay Sailing Club. In the city centre, there is Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club. On the Northside of Dublin, there is Clontarf Yacht and Boat Club and Sutton Dinghy Club. While not on Dublin Bay, Howth Yacht Club is the major north Dublin Sailing centre.

© Afloat 2020