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Displaying items by tag: Shark

Marine scientists have found that a critically endangered shark in southern African has been identified in waters over 2,000 km away from its usual habitat.

The scientists led by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) say that information and images dating back two years show that the endangered shorttail nurse shark (Pseudoginglymostoma brevicaudatum) is alive in waters off Mozambique

This represents a range extension of more than 2,000 kilometres (1,242 miles), from the coast of Tanzania, and 1,100 kilometres (683 miles) westward from Madagascar across the Mozambique Channel.

A paper published in the journal Marine Biodiversity says the discovery is based on underwater video surveys collected in 2019, recent photos of shore-based sport anglers’ catches, and the identification of a specimen collected in 1967.

The shorttail nurse shark - so name due to its small size – grows to approximately 75 centimetres (30 inches) and is found in coral reefs.

Coastal fisheries and habitat degradation are said to have influenced its decline in numbers, estimated at more than 80 per cent over the last 30 years.

The scientists state that one of the records of the shark - from Mozambique’s Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve - suggests that the species benefits from some degree of protection within a large coastal marine protected area (MPA).

However, the species range within Mozambique may span a large proportion of the country’s unprotected coral reef habitat, they note, with no specific regulations on its catch – apart from a listing on the Kenya threatened and protected species records.

The researchers recommend that the species should be considered for legal protection in Mozambique and throughout its limited range, and improved management measures should be initiated to reduce targeted and incidental catch.

WCS works on shark conservation around the world, and highlights how much of the global trade in both shark fins, and other products such as meat, is unregulated and is threatening many species with extinction.

This research was conducted in partnership with the Mozambique Instituto Nacional de Investigação Pesqueira, and the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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Irish shark experts have called on newly elected MEPs to outlaw the growing shark fin fishery in European waters, following a fine imposed on a Spanish fishing vessel detained off the Irish coast.

The Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) has confirmed that the fine of €2,500 and forfeiture of catch and gear worth €165,000 was imposed on the Spanish vessel Virxen da Blanca, following a guilty plea in Cork circuit court on May 23rd last.

The vessel had pleaded guilty to catches of Blue Shark with a small quantity of Mako Shark on board after it was detained by the Naval Service about 150 nautical miles south of Ireland last August.

A special sitting of Clonakilty district court last year also heard the vessel had 1,250kg of shark fins on board. The vessel was supposedly fishing for tuna.

Shark fins can fetch a high price in Asia, where they are used in shark fin soup. The fins are often removed while the shark is still alive and it can then no longer swim effectively and either suffocates or is eaten by other predators.

Sharks, rays and skates are the most threatened seafish in Europe, and several species of shark caught in Irish waters are on the “red list” of endangered species issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Dr Kevin Flannery, chair of the Irish Elasmobranch Group which is focused on protecting sharks, ray and skates, said that a loophole in the licensing of the tuna longline fishery was allowing a bycatch of shark off this coast.

The fine imposed on the Virxen da Blanca (italics) represented “just 50 cents” for each dead shark, given that the vessel had an estimated 5,000 on board, he said.

“We congratulate the Naval Service and SFPA and welcome the guilty plea, but we are calling on newly elected MEPs to close off this legal loophole and stop this barbaric practice,” he said.

“We know of nine non-Irish vessels working off this coast, targeting blue shark in particular, and using a loophole in the tuna longline fishery,” he said.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Michael Creed recently said he was in favour of a “considerably lower” permitted by-catch of certain shark species.

He was responding to a case made by the IEG for action on critically endangered species, such as angel shark.

SFPA chairwoman Dr Susan Steele said the SFPA was committed to preventing illegal shark fishing and said it had “zero tolerance “ for vessels “removing fins from sharks in our waters”.

“Luckily this infringement was detected, and we will continue to work with authorities across Europe to deter and detect any future illegal shark fishing violations,” Dr Steele said.

She paid tribute to the inter-agency cooperation between the Naval Service, Garda and SFPA which led to the Spanish vessel’s detention last year.

Asked to comment on reported new measures being introduced in relation to the protection of angel shark in Irish waters, the SFPA said that for security and operational reasons it could not go into details.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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It’s the Year of the Shark at Ireland’s Sea Life Centre where two Short Tail Nurse Sharks have bred for the first time. The eggs from the rare sharks, now facing a dramatic decline in the wild, can now be seen growing in their tank and the pups are expected to hatch towards the end of the year.

The female shark was born in Sea Life in 2006 from a wild caught egg and is one of the first of the species to breed in captivity. The male shark was also born in 2006, in Artis Zoo in Amsterdam and came to Sea Life on loan in 2013 as part of a European breeding programme. But they didn’t breed immediately, it took them four years to get together! This shark is only found in three locations in the wild, off the coasts of Tanzania and Kenya in East Africa and in the waters surrounding Madagascar.

Shark embryo 1A shark embryo develops in one of the rare eggs from the Short Tail Nurse Shark at the National Sea Life Centre Bray
The Short Tail Nurse Shark has been placed on the ‘vulnerable’ list by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Its decline has resulted from commercial overfishing for food and particularly for its fins, which are regarded as a delicacy in Asia and which sell for around £140 a kilo. The fish is also caught as a bycatch in the heavily fished inshore waters of East Africa. It also suffers from the destruction of its natural habitat, the coral reefs.

It is a fascinating animal to watch. An inshore bottom dwelling species, it has a unique feeding apparatus with a small mouth but an enlarged pharynx that allows it to create a vacuum and suck up its prey. It is a nocturnal feeder, preying on sea urchins, squid and octopus. It has a habit of regularly floating upside down and can live for up to 33 years in captivity, becoming mature when it is 56 cm long.

Pat O’Suilleabhain, Director of Sea Life Bray, says it is a great achievement to have these rare sharks breed successfully in Ireland and that Bray can be proud to be part of a European wide breeding programme. ‘We became a part of this very interesting programme when Artis Zoo in the Netherlands agreed to loan us the male shark. There is little known about their breeding habits so there is great excitement throughout Europe as we wait for the pups to hatch.’

The eggs and the parents are currently on display at Sea Life in Bray.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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Sailing instructor Kerri-Ann Boylan was out coaching kids in Optimist sailing dinghies at the weekend when she spotted a fin in the water in Skerries Harbour in North County Dublin.

'As I brought the kids into land and about to let them jump out of my boat we spotted a fin', she wrote on social media on October 10th. 

'It's a very rare sight of a 'shark' being in that close to land and in the Irish Sea,' she added.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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RTE news reports that a kayak angler has captured on camera his "epic tussle" to catch a shark off Malin Head in Co Donegal. Sea angler Graham Smith battled for more than three hours on Saturday to land the 136kg porbeagle shark. Porbeagles carry little threat to humans and typically reach 2.5m.
After landing the huge fish, Mr Smith released it.

The experienced angler says it was "above and beyond" anything else he has experienced.

Published in Angling
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There is always something unusual in the sea, a phrase I have heard very often from marine scientists and which I have been known to utter myself. It comes to my mind time and again when I am preparing this fortnightly radio programme.

From somewhere in my educational background, most likely with the Presentation Brothers in Cork aeons ago, I became conditioned to believe in a world that was, seemingly, manufactured within a defined religious-approved period, but I did not conceive then as a youngster that this could have happened many, many millions of years back, before the period recognised by the Brothers who taught me a lot that I value today, but were less informative about the millions of years BC.

So, when I come across information about a new discovery in the ocean, dating back many millions of years ago, the dating of them still comes as a surprise to me. Perhaps that is reflective of my age, or rather maturity, which I prefer to regard it as – maturing … like a good wine!

Anyway, that phrase came back to me when collating the News review for the current edition of THIS ISLAND NATION and two stories which came from North America about discoveries going back those ‘millions of years ago’. They reported that sharks existed on Earth 300 million years ago and that was before the age of the Dinosaurs. The discoveries have been made by marine scientists in Texas and New Mexico. The fossil of a shark more than 8 metres long - that’s about 26 feet - and a quarter longer than the modern great white shark  – has been found in Jacksboro, Texas, on what was the seabed of the Western Interior Seaway which covered Texas in water 300 million years ago. In addition to that, a nearly-complete fossilised shark that also dates to about 300 million years ago has been found during an archaeological dig in a quarry in New Mexico. A female specimen, this measures 6 feet, that’s around 2 metres, long.

It all shows that we still know less about the seas than we do about the Universe – and that’s something else which scientists say quite often!

Published in Island Nation
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#shark – Locals in Rush, County Dublin have rescued up to 30 Tope shark that were stranded in shallow water after the tide had gone out. The shark were transferred back to deeper water in the back of a jeep as this youtube video describes.

Published in Marine Warning
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#shark – October 2012 marks an important milestone for the Marine Institute and Irish Elasmobranch Group's porbeagle shark tagging project as five more porbeagles have been tagged off the Donegal coast by the project's expert shark angler, Peter McAuley. The project, which has been ongoing since 2008, is now offering the public an opportunity to track the movements of two sharks in near real time on the Irish Elasmobranch Group's website, www.irishelasmobranchgroup.org.

Five sharks were tagged with conventional pop-up satellite tags, which will record the sharks' location and depth, over a nine month period. After this, the tags are programmed to detach, float to the surface and transmit the data to orbiting satellites. In addition to the pop-up tags, two of the tagged sharks were fitted with Smart Position or Temperature Transmitting (SPOT) tags. These tags are fitted on to the dorsal fin of the sharks and each time the fin breaks the water's surface, a position is transmitted to an orbiting satellite. This allows the sharks to be tracked in near real time and it is believed that this is the first time these tags have ever been fitted on porbeagles. The tags should function for at least the next year, providing a completely new insight into the behaviour of these sharks.

Porbeagle sharks, which are a very timid species of shark, can grow to over three metres and 250 kilograms, and are one of the largest predatory sharks in Irish waters, feeding on fish. Once the target of intensive commercial fishing, the porbeagle shark is now considered to be critically endangered in the northeast Atlantic by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Since 2010, fishing for porbeagles has been banned in European waters; however, as little is known about its biology or ecology, such effective conservation measures are difficult to implement. The research team, comprising Dr. Ryan Saunders, Dr. Maurice Clarke and Dr. Edward Farrell, are attempting to understand the biology and ecology of the porbeagle shark by using advanced satellite linked tagging techniques. The project has already yielded some very important results, the most notable of which was the tagging of one shark, a juvenile male, that migrated over 2400 km from Ireland to Madeira. The movement of porbeagles from European waters to African waters was previously unknown and it has important implications for the conservation and management of the species.

In 2011 the research team was successful in attaining funding from both the Swiss based Save Our Seas Foundation and the German based Naturschutzbund Deutschland (NABU) to continue the project and to build on the important findings already made. Given the large scale movements of porbeagles, collaborations were also developed with the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) in the UK and with the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea (IFREMER).

These five newly tagged sharks also need names so a competition is being organised in collaboration with Galway Atlantaquaria which will give school children the chance to name these five sharks. Details about the competition are available on the Irish Elasmobranch Group website.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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#MARINE WILDLIFE - A Sligo-based surfer has relived the moment when he was attacked by a shark in his native New Zealand.

As the Otago Daily Times reports, 42-year-old Peter Garrett was surfing off Taranaki on North Island on Tuesday when the shark mauled him, leaving 10 bloody wounds - each about 2cm deep - with its razor-sharp teeth.

"He was bleeding quite a bit," said James Bruce, one of two vets surfing in the area who came to his aid. "You could tell from the teeth marks it could've been more serious."

Speaking to the Irish Independent from New Zealand, Garrett said he was knee-boarding at the time when he felt a bump to the board and a sudden sharp pain in his leg.

"I looked down and there was a shark on my leg and I sort of yelled obscenities at it... But it came back and I kicked at it with my flippers."

New Zealand has a relatively high incidence of unprovoked shark attacks, with some 44 on record since the mid 19th century - compared to 39 for the whole of Europe.

The Irish Independent has more on the story, including photos, HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#PERTH2011 – First electrical storms now possible shark attacks! It's all happening for the Irish Olympic team seeking qualification at the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships this week.

Aerial shark patrols over the sailing courses have been stepped up today after a credible sighting of a large shark in the Fremantle Fishing Boat harbour.

Event Director John Longley today briefed international sailing teams on the sighting late Tuesday, saying it was being taken seriously.

"The report was made by a professional fisherman who is regarded as a reliable source," Longley told sailing officials. "We have informed Western Australian government authorities who will ensure that the usual helicopter shark patrol will concentrate on checking out the Fremantle course area. Our course boats and the Fremantle Rescue Service will also be on extra alert after the reported sighting."

"The safety of athletes is paramount." Longley said. "This is part of the reason why we changed the racing rules for the Perth 2011 ISAF Worlds not to penalise sailors who need assistance to get back into their boats after a capsize."

More than 1100 sailors from 79 nations are taking part in the ISAF Sailing Worlds Championships being held between 3 – 18 December.

Published in Olympics 2012
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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.

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