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Displaying items by tag: marine wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Locals near Magheraroarty Beach in Co Donegal were left with a smelly situation last week after the remains of a whale buried on the strand were washed back onto the surface in a matter of days.

According to The Irish Times, the sperm whale carcass was first found beached on Friday 19 June and buried under the sand where it was found by Donegal County Council over that weekend.

However, on Monday 22 June the cetacean carcass reappeared after it was washed back out from its burial place with the tide.

And in its more advanced decomposing state, the noxious odour was beginning to cause a stink among regular beach users and locals alike. The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Ireland's basking shark visitors could be a big money-spinner for the Wild Atlantic Way, as Independent.ie's Travel TV reports.

The second largest fish in the sea are a regular summer sight off Ireland's coasts, particularly in Donegal, Mayo and Kerry – all prime spots along the western coastal tourism route initiative.

Indeed, Ireland is one of the best places in the world to see these magnificent examples of marine wildlife, says Emmett Johnston of the Irish Basking Shark Study Group.

And according to Dr Pete 'Hammerhead' Klimley, sites like Malin Head could be perfect as 'shark park' reserves to protect a species that may only number a few thousand worldwide, despite recently placing third in a list of the most unusual sharks.

Certainly such a shark park reserve would afford protections to help avoid the shocking harassment of marine life exhibited by two louts videoed 'surfing' a whale shark recently.

According to the Irish Mirror, calls have been made for the men involved in the sickening stunt to be charged for their abuse of the gentle giant, the largest fish in the world's oceans.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Common dolphins stranded in a Kerry river last weekend were saved by the quick actions of local people, as The Kerryman reports.

Trapped by the fast receding tide at the mouth of the Cloghane Estuary on the Dingle Peninsula last Saturday (20 June), the group of dolphins were fortunate they didn't have to wait long for the community to spring into action.

Following a report from local woman Shelia Mulcahy, Louise Overy of Dingle Oceanworld and her sister Tabitha co-ordinated efforts that involved area fishermen and landlubbers alike, keeping the dolphins wet till enough people arrived to help move the protected marine wildlife back into deeper waters.

The Kerryman has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#DublinBay - Dun Laoghaire Marina brings our attention to some great news for Dublin Bay, which has been designated as a UNESCO biosphere reserve.

As RTÉ News reports, the biosphere status has been expanded from Bull Island to cover the entire 300 sq km of Dublin Bay, the city and county – becoming the only such reserve in the world encompassing a major urban area.

The designation also coincides with the the new Dublin Bay Biosphere Partnership, which seeks to promote greater "balance between people and nature" and future sustainability in an area that's home to many protected species of marine wildlife.

The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Dublin Bay

#MarineScience - An international team of scientists led by Prof Andy Wheeler of University College Cork have discovered a new habitat for coral in Irish waters – possibly doubling the amount of cold water corals previously thought to exist in the area – while on the Marine Institute's RV Celtic Explorer during the QuERCi survey.

While conducting research on Irish cold water coral reefs, Prof Wheeler investigated a submerged vertical cliff 800m below the sea surface and found it covered in coral.

"The seabed just falls away into a deep chasm. We couldn't wait to take a look down there, using the Holland I remotely-operated vehicle [or ROV] which is equipped with cameras and robotic sampling arms," he said.

Prof Wheeler and his team have been investigating Irish cold water coral reefs for over 15 years. In the deep, cold, dark Atlantic, these corals form reef habitats supporting a diverse and abundant ecosystem.

It was while mapping and inspecting some previously unconfirmed reefs on the edge of the Porcupine Bank Canyon, 300km offshore from Dingle, that the scientists decided to venture further into the canyon itself.

The ROV Holland I was manoeuvred from a 2,100m water depth in the middle of the canyon, up the canyon wall to the coral reefs clustered around the canyon top at 700m water depth. The bottom of the canyon was choked with organic-rich particles flushing down the canyon on the way to the abyssal plain.

"It was like flying the ROV through a snow blizzard," said Dr Chris McGonigle of Ulster University, "but we just pushed up the canyon and it got steeper and steeper and steeper until we faced this vertical cliff face several hundred metres high."

The cliff face, never seen by humans before, was covered in corals and other associated organisms.

"These near vertical habitats hardly feature on maps yet can be hundreds of metres high and extend for tens of kilometres. This is a massive habitat, barely explored, yet full of ocean life", said Dr Agostina Vertino of the University of Milan-Bicocca. "We found many species of coral, sponges, crabs and fish."

Prof Wheeler believes it is "not unfeasible that there is over 100sqkm of coral habitat that was previously unaccounted for."

The coral discovery site has already been designated a Special Area of Conservation due to coral reefs in the vicinity. Yet despite its protection, the international team lead by Prof Wheeler found snagged fishing gear and litter.

"It is a great shame, we are the first people to see this place yet despite of its remoteness there is still evidence of human impacts," he said.

The RV Celtic Explorer is Ireland's state-of-the-art research vessel and has been recently equipped with new seabed mapping sonars giving unprecedented views of the seabed. The ship is also the dive platform for the Holland I ROV.

"The quality of the data that this ship and ROV can now collect is phenomenal," said Dr McGonigle. "We were seeing details on the seabed that a few years ago we could only have dreamed of.

"This increase in data quality will allow us to develop a much greater understanding of the processes controlling the distribution of life in these unique environments."

Congratulating Prof Wheeler and the team on their discoveries, Mick Gillooly, director at the Marine Institute, said "we are delighted to see the recent upgrade of the Celtic Explorer and the ROV Holland's multibeam sonar suite producing such amazing results for this expedition.

"The high resolution images produced are fundamental in helping scientists with their research as well as helping us provide a better understanding our ocean."

Published in Marine Science

#MarineWildlife - A paddleboarder "still can't believe" the moment when a humpback whale surfaced right under his board off West Cork earlier this week.

As the Irish Examiner reports, Jason Coniry was out for a paddle with fellow boarders off Inchydoney beach on Wednesday evening (17 June) when the ocean giant appeared suddenly before him.

Luckily for the Corkman – who took the 'special endeavour' award in the Ocean to City An Rás Mór last month for being the first ever stand-up paddle board entrant – the whale was nothing more than curious about him and his fellow humans on the surface.

And Coniry has the presence of mind – and the available tech – to record the incredible marine wildlife experience on video to share with the world.

“Instinct guides us as to when it’s unsafe," he said of the respectful close encounter. "The whale’s movements are very intentional and accurate. If it did not want us near it, we would definitely have known.”

The humpback visitor was certainly in safer company than fellow whales in the Antarctic, where Japan is expected to resume whale hunts by the end of the year – despite the International Whaling Commission not being satisfied of the need to hunt for research purposes.

The Irish Examiner has more on that story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - A group of sea anglers off Donegal's Inishowen Peninsula got more than most would bargain for last week when they landed a shark – with video to prove it.

But far from fearful at the prospect, Graham Smith and friends told the Irish Examiner that they actively seek out such fishy predators as the tope shark, a few of which they caught while out kayaking in recent days.

"They normally range from 20lb to 45lb," he said of the small fighters, "but there are bigger ones around later in the year."

It's all in good sport, however, as the vulnerable species – also known as the school shark or snapper shark – were returned to the water "to terrorise the small fish of Inishowen."

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - A minke whale calf has died after beaching on the shore of Lough Foyle near Limavady last week, as BBC News reports.

The whale, thought to be just three months old, was first spotted by locals washed up on the beach in Myroe on Friday 29 May and was encouraged back into the sea, but was later found deceased in an emaciated condition on Tuesday 2 June.

"We assessed the situation and noted that the animal was an unweaned calf about three months old and apparently separated from its mother," said a spokesperson for Norther Ireland's Department of Environment, which has since removed the carcass.

"The calf was severely malnourished and had suffered extensive injuries during its several standings."

The spokesperson confirmed that there is no correlation between this stranding and the recent mass stranding of pilot whales off the Isle of Skye in western Scotland.

According to the Irish Examiner, nine were lost from the group of 21 whales that beached at Staffin in the north east of the Inner Hebridean island on Tuesday 2 June.

The incident is the worst since 16 pilot whales died after stranding near St Andrews in September 2012.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#Biodiversity - Coastwatch volunteers taking part in events for National Biodiversity Week have discovered a massive honeycomb reef as much as a kilometre long in the Waterford Estuary.

Members of the public began checking the shore between Hook Head in Co Wexford and Annestown in Co Waterford on Monday 18 May, an area that has previously shown signs of honeycomb reefs.

But volunteers were astounded to make this latest massive discovery, and Coastwatch members are working to ascertain if it might be the biggest reef of its kind in the world, a record currently held by Saint-Malo in Brittany.

Karen Dubsky of Coastwatch Europe said "first results look very encouraging. We are looking for more surveyors to give an hour and search their shore."

Events continue till Monday 1 June for Ireland's National Biodiversity Week 2015, with today (Friday 22 May) being International Day for Biological Diversity.

Upcoming flagship events include a marine wildlife-watching trip to Lambay Island next Wednesday 27 May, but the event calendar lists a whole host of activities both around the coast and inland throughout the country.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - "High pollution levels" could be to blame for the failure of Ireland's only resident killer whale pod to produce any calves.

As reported two years ago on Afloat.ie, the well-known orca pod often seen between Scotland and Ireland has been judged to be on the 'brink of extinction', with its conservation status described as "critical".

Since then the pod's number has dwindled from nine adults to just seven, with no juveniles recorded in the 30 years the so-called Scottish West Coast Community has been monitored by researchers.

One reason for that, posits Dr Simon Berrow of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG), could be "high pollution levels" in the food chain which may have rendered them infertile.

“If you’re moving all around Europe and living a long time, you get a lot of contaminants from fish over time,” he told the Irish Mirror.

That's a theory backed up by evidence of pollutants detected in whale carcasses beached around Ireland in recent years.

Far from the ferocious beasts of horror tales, Ireland's killer whales are considered among the gentle giants in the marine wildlife world - with one recently the recipient of a shark bite on his tail fluke.

Marine scientists have long been interested in the group for their genetic distinctness from other orcas in the north Atlantic, bearing closer relation to their Antarctic cousins.

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.

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