Displaying items by tag: IWDG
Whale watchers have captured spectacular aerial video of a group of humpback whales spotted “socialising” off West Cork.
The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group’s science officer Seán O’Callaghan filmed the remarkable scene last month just days after the first humpback whale sighing of the year was made in the same region, sailing out of Reen Pier.
“We had perfect sea conditions to search for cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) but our efforts to spot distant large whale blows were hampered by Saharan sand that caused a thick haze at sea,” the IWDG said.
“However, we did connect with up to six humpback whales feeding and socialising in offshore waters which allowed us to collect the first set of aerial images and video that will be used to estimate the length and body condition of these iconic giants.”
The video shows four of the humpback whales interacting with each other while common dolphins swim just ahead and among them.
And it marks the first significant contribution to WhaleTrack Ireland — the IWDG’s new drone-based citizen science project, supported by Ryanair, which aims to find out what these and other marine wildlife giants are doing within and beyond Irish waters.
#MarineWildlife - A team from the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) was on site at Streedagh Strand in Sligo yesterday (Thursday 4 April) to investigate the third sperm whale stranding in a matter of days along Ireland’s West Coast.
As reported yesterday on Afloat.ie, the discovery of a third such whale carcass made for an “increasingly unusual stranding pattern”.
While sperm whales are relatively abundant in Ireland’s deep ocean waters, they are rarely found above 300 metres — and male specimens are far more common than the female whale found in Sligo.
The IWDG confirmed that samples were taken from the 10.4m carcass, which showed “no obvious signs of ship collision [or] entanglement, nor was the whale emaciated”.
Examination of stomach contents found no plastic debris and few food remains.
“So as is so often the case with strandings, we know more about what didn’t kill the whale than what did kill it,” the IWDG stated — adding that it is liaising with Scottish colleges after a decomposed sperm whale was found on Uist in the Outer Hebrides, due north of Ireland, in recent days.
The group also notes that multiple warships and submarines are involved in Nato’s annual Joint Warrior exercise ongoing west of the Hebrides.
Sonar activity from military vessels has been suggested as a cause of whale strandings throughout Europe in recent years, including a major event across Scottish and Irish waters last year.
“However, these whales have been dead for one to two weeks so this can’t explain these strandings, unless some active equipment was tested offshore prior to the start of this exercise,” the IWDG says.
Following the discovery of two sperm whale carcasses on the same day last week — in Donegal and west of the Aran Islands, the latter believed to have beached in Connemara — a third was found washed up on Streedagh beach in Sligo at the weekend.
Images of the latest stranding suggest it is an adult female, which the IWDG describes as “a little unusual” as “generally we get adult male sperm whales off the Irish coast”.
The close proximity of the strandings is also “now a concern”, though no cause of death has yet been determined, and plastic pollution is unlikely to be the culprit.
The IWDG added it “will explore some potential options regarding this increasingly unusual stranding pattern”.
Meanwhile, RTÉ News reports that the Galway council officials hope the sperm whale carcass washed ashore in Connemara will be taken out by high tides in the coming days.
#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.
#MarineWildlife - The remains of two sperm whales have been spotted around Ireland in recent days.
The first was sighted in the Atlantic Ocean some 100km west of the Aran Islands on Monday (25 March) by an Air Corps airman.
Later that same day, samples were taken from a 43ft sperm whale carcass found washed ashore at Magheroarty in Co Donegal. Highland News says it it thought to have been dead for a number of weeks.
Sperm whales are the largest predator in Irish waters and are relatively abundant in deep ocean but are rarely found above 300 metres, according to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group.
The IWDG adds that a recent study estimated there are 3.2 sperm whales per 1,000 square kilometres of Irish waters.
#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.
In May last year a crew of marine scientists and enthusiasts set sail on the IWDG’s research yacht for a weeks-long return passage to the edge of the Arctic Circle in search of humpback whales, building “strong links with Iceland and its people” along the way.
Last month, IWDG members began sharing their experiences from the rewarding mission in images, stories and video of the voyage to audiences in libraries and other venues across the island of Ireland — beginning on 14 January at DLR LexIcon and since visiting Galway, Tralee, Monaghan town and Arklow, as well as Bangor and Warrenpoint in Northern Ireland and Dublin’s Poolbeg Yacht Club.
“Through the tour, we want to encourage people to get involved,” IWDG’s chief science officer Dr Simon Berrow told the Irish Examiner. “If even one person at every event we do gets interested [in marine life] and gets motivated, that’s fantastic.”
The Irish Examiner has much more on the story HERE.
Nicknamed Nimmo, the solitary bottlenose dolphin was first sighted in the city in April 2015 and since then has become an annual fixture, appearing and staying longer each time.
The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) suggests this is a sign that the area around Galway city is now a “more important core feeding habitat for Nimmo”.
IWDG members are invited to join any of the nine legs, the first of which sets sail from 9-15 June (weather permitting) between Cork and Dingle/Fenit.
For details on how to book a place on any of these voyages and for further information, contact [email protected]
#MarineWildlife - Naval Service personnel on patrol with the LÉ Samuel Beckett encountered the carcass of a large whale some 50 nautical miles south-east of Ballycotton Lighthouse in the days after Christmas.
The “mystery whale” is neither a sighting (which only counts or living cetaceans) nor a stranding. But as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) says, the encounter “serves to remind us that the animals that wash up on our shoreline may represent only a small percentage of the total number of cetaceans that expire at sea of presumably natural causes.”
IWDG sightings officer Pádraig Whooley said the location of these whale remains was “interesting as this area of the Celtic Sea has produced the most consistent large-whale sightings in recent months, with fairly regular sightings of fin whales from land-based sites between Ram Head, Ardmore extending east towards the Hook Head lighthouse.”
A dreary, stormy day in Dublin city centre was brightened with the appearance of a common dolphin swimming up the River Liffey as far as the Loopline Bridge.
The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) says it got its first reports early this morning (Wednesday 28 November) from the Jeanie Johnston, whose John O’Neill shot this video of the solo cetacean swimming loops in the river.
It was spotted swimming strongly as far west as Liberty Hall around lunchtime before heading back east and towards Dublin Bay.
Dolphins are known to develop kidney and skin problems on prolonged exposure to freshwater environments such as rivers.
However, the IWDG moved to assuage public concerns over this particular animal — saying that if it was swimming as strongly as sightings suggested, it would be more than able to swim back to sea.
It’s suggested that this short-beaked visitor may be one of a pod of some 20 dolphins known to be feeding off the East Coast this month.