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Displaying items by tag: marine wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Seals are not threatening commercial fishing stocks in Irish waters, with the possible exception of wild Atlantic salmon, according to new research led by Queen's University Belfast.

The findings show that seals are having no significant impact on populations of the most popular species of fish caught for commercial purposes along the south and west coasts of Ireland from Galway to Waterford.

The first comprehensive study of its kind, the conclusions of this research – led by QUB in collaboration with University College Cork and the Marine Institute – suggest that the seals do not compete with fishermen over the stocks.

The issue of seals in Irish waters has been controversial in recent years, and there have been calls from some quarters for culls of the common marine mammals.

"We need to emphasise that this work in no way says that seals cause no problems for the fishing industry," said lead researcher Dr Keith Farnsworld of QUB. "They do create significant problems for static fishing gear, such as the fixed nets used by estuarine salmon fishers, and they may also impact on numbers of wild salmon, although most salmon eaten on these islands is farmed.

"What we are saying is that for most commercially fished species off the south and west coasts of Ireland – herring, mackerel, cod, haddock, whiting and 30 other species – seals are having no significant negative effect on numbers.

"This is because the seals are eating much smaller fish than the larger, mature specimens that fishermen are required by law to catch. So seals are often eating the same species of fish as we buy in the supermarkets, but younger versions of them. And there are hundreds more younger fish than mature fish in any given species.

"In fact, we found evidence that seals may actually be doing the fishermen a favour, by eating some species that prey on the valuable stocks the fishermen are after."

Prof David Reid of the Marine Institute added that "what this work shows is that the only way to really resolve questions like this one is to be able to actually look at the detail, and work out what is going on.

"This work used material as diverse as the gut contents of the seals and the fish, through seal 'scat', to samples taken from commercial catches and research vessel surveys, and elaborate mathematical models.

"The idea of seals being direct competitors with the fishing boats for the fish out there intuitively seems pretty obvious. But actually, in this case, it is not really true. They both 'eat' fish. But not the same fish, and they do not compete with each other.

"This is not to say," he added, "that seals do not compete with fishermen in other ways. In other recent work we showed that fishermen who use set nets round the coast of Ireland can lose fish straight out of their nets to seals. But as with this study, we needed to go into the detail, and get our hands dirty to prove that."

The findings of this new research are based on data from an area roughly 100 miles off south and west Ireland, encompassing the coastlines of counties Waterford, Cork, Kerry, Clare and Galway. The data was collected from seal droppings of both grey and common seals and collated by researchers from University College Cork.

Supplementary information was obtained from the Marine Institute and the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES).

The data was then interpreted by researchers at QUB's Institute for Global Food Security. Their conclusions have been published today in The Journal of Applied Ecology.

The study will be good news to the ears of seal fans in Northern Ireland, whose grey seal population is having a bumper year in 2015, as BBC News reports.

Co Down in particular is reporting strong numbers at such seal-friendly locations as the Copeland Islands and Strangford Lough, where 107 seal pups were counted this year – a sign of good health for the ecosystem as a whole.

BBC News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#Fishing - Overfishing. Pollution. Exploitation. Carelessness. The story of one American fishing captain's experiences onboard a nominally US-flagged boat in the Pacific tuna fleet is an alarming one.

Writing for Matter, science writer Kalee Thompson reports on Doug Pine's near-mutiny on board the tuna boat Majestic Blue, the culmination of a series of disturbing events themselves the end result of dodgy deals involving a Korean conglomerate with a reputation for illegal fishing, and congressional lobbyists pushing for ever more lax regulations in order to preserve a paper presence in the tuna business.

Efforts to save America's dwindling tuna fishing industry in the wake of the dolphin catch scandals of decades past found a solution in outsourcing – and have produced a farcical situation where American 'captains' preside over what for all practical purposes are foreign boats with foreign crews, with no actual control over what happens at sea.

And that's only the half of it when it comes to the so-called 'distant water tuna fleet', operating amid a kind of lawlessness akin to piracy around the poverty-stricken islands of the Western Pacific, at the expense of marginalised crew and vulnerable marine wildlife alike.

Matter has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing

#MarineWildlife - Bioluminescent wildlife off Dingle and Ventry has attracted hundreds of onlookers in recent days to see the phenomenon known as 'sea sparkle'.

According to TheJournal.ie, the mesmerising clouds of tiny lights in the water are the result of Noctiluca scintillans, a bioluminescent type of phytoplankton that's currently massed in an algal bloom off the Kerry coast.

Once night falls, and provided conditions are as settled as they have been recently, their lights can be seen from the shore like a 'fire of the sea', as per their nickname.

It brings to mind the similar 'glow in the dark' marine creatures in the unique habitat of Lough Hyne, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#Coastwatch - There's still a week left for Coastwatch volunteers to participate in the annual Coastwatch Survey for 2015, which this year has a special focus on the new Dublin Bay Biosphere.

Since 15 September volunteers have taken on one or more 'survey units' – 500m of shore – to do an 'eco-audit' of Ireland's shoreline at low tide. Details are available HERE.

It's hoped that the survey will break the 1,000-unit barrier by the last day next Thursday 15 October – while also encouraging the public to experience the particularly low spring tides at this time of year, revealing much more of our vibrant marine biodiversity.

Such discoveries could even be record-breaking, like the massive honeycomb reef found by Coastwatch volunteers in the Waterford Estuary this past summer.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#Whales&Dolphins - The first ever ORCA OceanWatch Week saw crews’ record sightings of whales, dolphins and porpoises on commercial ships, ferries and naval vessels leaving Portsmouth and other UK ports.

Those involved had been trained by experts at ORCA, the Portsmouth based whale, dolphin and porpoise conservation charity, who have collated hundreds of reports from dozens of vessels.

Afloat.ie adds that the ORCA survey included ferries from the Isle of Man Steam Packet's Douglas-Heysham route and Brittany Ferries Cork-Roscoff service.

ORCA has just released the figures, which exceeded the charity’s expectations. Nearly 2,000 individual cetaceans, the name given to whales, dolphins and porpoises, were spotted during OceanWatch, the first monitoring event of its kind.

Well known BBC TV wildlife presenter Chris Packham, who is a Patron of ORCA, has been at the Hampshire port to meet the team and discuss the outcome of the survey. Chris said, “It's a fantastic result and great to see so many organisations working together on such an important issue. ORCA will now be able to create an even more authoritative map, showing where these amazing creatures are living, and helping to protect them in the future. Now let's aim to double those sightings in 2016!”

Chris Packham was at Portsmouth International Port to join one of Brittany Ferries’ popular whale watching mini cruises to Spain. The ferry operator was a major contributor to ORCA OceanWatch Week, with its vessels crisscrossing the Bay of Biscay, one of the world’s hotspots for whales and dolphins.

Martin Putman, Port Manager, was on hand to welcome the popular presenter back to the UK ferryport. He said, “We were delighted to host the launch of ORCA OceanWatch, and it’s great to hear that the charity has been able to gather so much important information. It’s a tribute to their hard work, and the determination of the crews who have gone to great lengths to accurately record the sightings.”

The common dolphin was the most frequently seen cetacean, with 50 sightings, totalling 747 individuals. Highlights of the survey included four blue whales seen in the Bay of Biscay from the Cunard Queen Elizabeth (a visitor off Dun Laoghaire Harbour in 2013) and 750 pilot whales seen in one day in Arctic Waters on board the Saga Pearl II.

271 sightings of cetaceans totalling 1,939 individual animals were reported during ORCA OceanWatch. These reports included 16 different species of cetacean; harbour porpoise, common dolphin, striped dolphin, white-beaked dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, Rissos dolphin, Atlantic white-sided dolphin, pilot whale, minke whale, Sei whale, fin whale, humpback whale, blue whale, sperm whale, Cuvier's beaked whale and northern bottlenose whale.

The surveys were recorded in the following seven sea regions: Arctic Waters, Bay of Biscay and Iberian Coast, Celtic Sea, English Channel, North Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Wider Atlantic Ocean.

The full 2015 ORCA OceanWatch will be available to view on the ORCA website soon: www.orcaweb.org.uk/get-involved/OceanWatch

As above in the YouTube footage is Nigel Marven at the launch of the event held at the port in July.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - The Belfast Telegraph has video of a 30ft whale that washed up on Portstewart Strand yesterday morning (Monday 6 October).

Confirmed as the remains of an adult female sei whale, the enormous marine wildlife remains took three diggers to lift it off the beach onto a trailer for removal in an operation that lasted several hours.

The sight has astounded onlookers due to the balloon-like protrusion from its mouth – but experts say it's common for the tongues of whale carcasses to inflate with gas after they strand.

What's more, marine science PhD student Suzanne Beck says the stranding is a great opportunity for marine education. The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Whale Watch West Cork have shared this incredible video of one of a humpback whale breaching off Baltimore this week.

The whale is one of three of the ocean giants seen feeding off Baltimore and nearby islands in recent days, and caught in some stunning shots by photographer Simon Duggan, among others.

 



Meanwhile, some no less impressive sights have been seen of Donegal, new video shows basking sharks - the second biggest fish in the sea - breaching off Malin Head.

 

Bren Whelan of Wild Atlantic Way Climbing told Independent Travel that it's been an "outstanding week" for marine wildlife watching on the North Coast, saying he himself had witnessed "over 300" basking shark breaches.

Basking sharks have been seen in big numbers the area all month long, with 15 spotted during the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group's Whale Watch Ireland 2015 event on the afternoon of 23 August alone.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - The Causeway Coast is fast becoming a mecca for dolphins – and dolphin watchers, as the News Letter reports.

Now regularly spotted from the mainland between Ballycastle and Lough Foyle, the dolphins – which may number as many as 70 – are believed to have followed the Gulf Stream as its warm waters have dropped down towards the north coast.

But they're not just here for a holiday, as food is of the essence – hence their habit of approaching boats in big numbers in search of a bite to eat, or in the hopes of stirring up a big mackerel feast.

Rathlin Island appears to be a particular hotspot for the boisterous cetaceans, but Malin Head in Donegal also seems to be within their swimming grounds, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Marine wildlife populations around the globe have been halved since the 1970s, according to a new study on the state of the world's oceans.

And despite efforts since the 1990s to stem the decline, overfishing and habitat loss are the biggest culprits, say the World Wide Fund for Nature and the Zoological Society of London.

As the Irish Examiner reports, the conservation study analysed statistics for more than 1,200 marine species – fish, mammals, bird and reptiles – and found a startling 49% fall in numbers compared to 1970s records.

In some individual cases, the decline is even worse - with fish in the tuna and mackerel family only a third of what they were in number four decades ago.

The Irish Examiner has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
Tagged under

#MarineWildlife - Two friends were caught by surprise by a playful pod of dolphins off Donegal's Malin Head in recent days.

And as UTV reports, one of them was quick enough to capture the exciting encounter on video.

“Apparently this area of sea is a migrating route from north to south," said Belfast fishermen Neil McCann, who was holidaying in the area with a friend.

"If you think about that, then Ireland is in the way, so they have to pass around the tip of Malin Head. Fishermen are now calling the area the dolphin capital of Ireland.”

The headland on the Inishowen Peninsula, which marks the northern end of the Wild Atlantic Way, has also been hailed this week for its potential as a 'shark park' reserve, with all the makings of a major marine wildlife tourist attraction.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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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