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Displaying items by tag: Dolphins

The Faroe Islands has announced it will limit its controversial dolphin unit to 500 for this year and next, as RTÉ News reports.

The decision comes after a Faroese governmental review prompted by a petition calling for a ban on the bloody hunt tradition that garnered 1.3 million signatures.

Almost 1,500 white-sided dolphins were killed in last year’s hunt, which employs a method known as “grindadráp” whereby boats surround cetaceans in a semi-circle to drive them into shallows where they are then beached and slaughtered with knives.

The traditional hunt has wide support in the Faroes, part of the Kingdom of Denmark and some 320km north of the Scottish mainland, where dolphins and pilot whales have fed communities for generations. Local leaders emphasised that the annual catch is “important supplement to the livelihoods of Faroe Islanders”.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

Ahead of its broadcast this weekend, Newstalk previews A Sea of Sound, a new radio documentary that explores the impact of noise pollution on marine wildlife.

Marine mammals such as dolphins and whales effectively ‘see’ through sound in the water. “So to understand the life they lead, as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group’s Simon Berrow says, we need to “think acoustically”.

Producer John Higgins spoke to Berrow and other environmental stakeholders for the documentary, which also features some of the remarkable sounds of whales and dolphins communicating beneath the waves — and explores the sounds that threaten them, from seismic surveys to military sonar and more.

A Sea of Sound will be broadcast on Newstalk this Sunday morning 27 March at 7am, with a repeat on Saturday 2 April at 9pm. It will also be available as a podcast.

Published in Marine Wildlife

A trio of dolphins who surrounded a swimmer rescued after hours at sea off the Kerry coast earlier this week have been identified as a group from Scottish waters more than 1,000km away.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the swimmer was recovered by Fenit RNLI north of the Dingle Peninsula after a 12-hour ordeal on Sunday evening when rescuers spotted dolphins circling around him.

It soon emerged that the casualty was well-known Northern Ireland entertainer Ruairí McSorley, who shot to fame in his school days as ‘Frostbit Boy’ when a video clip from a TV voxpop went viral online.

Already an incredible story, it took another astounding turn when the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) identified the so-called ‘Fenit 3’ dolphins that helped alert rescuers as belonging to a population from the Moray Firth in the north-east of Scotland.

But the IWDG says this is not an unprecedented occurrence, as they come from the same marine wildlife group as miracle dolphin Spirtle who spent the summer of 2019 off the South West Coast.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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Ballycastle Coastguard joined officials from Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in responding to reports of dolphins being potentially harassed by personal water craft and other leisure vessels.

The teams launched on Sunday afternoon (25 July) to the waters off Ballycastle beach in north Co Antrim, where “a conversation was had with several PWC users and they were asked to return to Ballycastle Harbour”, a coastguard spokesperson said.

“At the harbour advice was given on the legal protection of these marine mammals, and how to legally operate in their presence.

“After the area was cleared of PWC and pleasure craft the dolphins were observed to swim freely west and re-aggregetae into their pod.”

The coastguard said noise from leisure vessels “causes distress to these social mammals as they cannot communicate acoustically with their pod”.

It also emphasises that a conviction for wildlife disturbance under the NI Wildlife Order comes with the potential of a heavy fine or even jail.

“These are also large animals and have the potential to capsize vessels or cause injury,” it added.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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A sea swimmer got “close enough to be a bit nervous” with a pod of dolphins off Myrtleville earlier this week.

Harry Casey tells the Irish Examiner about his once-in-a-lifetime experience of swimming out to greet the marine wildlife off the Co Cork beach on Tuesday (8 December).

“I didn’t think I’d get that close to be honest,” he says. “I think maybe they were a bit curious and came over to suss me out.”

Harry’s friend Derek McGreevy, who was on hand to photograph the meeting, also snapped the remarkable image of a ‘feeding frenzy’ in outer Cork Harbour this week.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, as many as 60 dolphins have been drawn to the area following shoals of warm-water anchovies and sprat, which have also been temping enormous fin whales inshore.

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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Marine scientists have published landmark advice to the European Commission for urgent action to protect dolphins and porpoise in European waters.

According to EU Reporter, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) is advocating for ‘emergency measures’ to prevent bycatch of these vulnerable marine wildlife amid fishing activity in the Bay of Biscay and Baltic Sea.

ICES also insists that such measures, including the closure of some fisheries, would have to be instituted over the long term to ensure the future survival of the species under threat.

The move comes after a network of NGOs, which included the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, last year called on the Commission to take action against 15 EU member states for failing in their cities to protect cetaceans from bycatch in the North East Atlantic.

EU Reporter has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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Two gardaí teamed up with local coastguard volunteers to help refloat a beached dolphin in Co Donegal yesterday (Monday 13 April).

The Garda Review Twitter account shared video of the remarkable rescue at Killahoey Beach as the small group of Good Samaritans worked to carry the stranded marine mammal into swimmable waters.

The Irish Mirror has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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#MarineWildlife - The UK’s Natural History Museum has made available for the first time a vast trove of whale and dolphin stranding records in British and Irish waters.

The data covers the years 1913 to 1989, filling in a significant gap before the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group’s stranding scheme began in 1991.

Over the years many entries were submitted by the coastguard, fishermen and members of the public — including a detailed record of a harbour porpoise found in Co Cork in 1913, the very first card in the data set.

PhD candidate Ellen Coombs is combing through the records to determine what picture “one of the longest systematic cetacean stranding data sets in the world” reveals for the status of cetacean species in our waters.

And already there have been some important finds, such as occasional records of deep-diving Cuvier’s beaked whales over the decades — not to mention a double stranding of narwhals in 1949.

The data also correlates with already known trends, such as the sharp decline in blue whale records with the expansion of commercial whaling in the early 20th century.

The Natural History Museum website has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Unusual weather for this time of year may be responsible for a recent spate of whale and dolphin strandings on the Cork coast in the past week.

The Irish Examiner reports that among the eight strandings were the carcass of a sperm whale on Long Strand in West Cork and a dolphin with fishing line around its beak in Schull.

However, the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group’s (IWDG) Mick O’Connell said that while the statistic was high within such a short timeframe, it was not necessarily a mystery.

“We normally get the same thing every year,” said the IWDG stranding officer. “It is usually more in the southwest and west, but this year, I suppose we have had more southeast winds, which probably explains it.”

O’Connell added that the strandings are “only a percentage of what is actually dead at sea” — and that post-mortems may “shed some light in their deaths”.

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#CoastalNotes - Extension of planning permission for a €500 million gas terminal at Ballylongford on the Kerry coast now faces judicial review, as Green News reports.

Friends of the Irish Evironment (FiE) was granted leave in the High Court to review An Bord Pleanála’s decision to extend permission originally granted in 2008, on the basis that relevant climate law has changed in recent years.

FiE also contends that the environmental assessment submitted with the original application does not take into account a later survey of the area by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

This 2012 survey identified the earmarked site for the terminal’s jetty as a “critical habitat” for bottlenose dolphins.

Green News has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes
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Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

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