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Displaying items by tag: IWDG

#MarineWildlife - Galley Head was the place to see Ireland’s biggest recorded gathering of minke whales in recent weeks, as TheJournal.ie reports.

Cork Whale Watch skipper Colin Barnes estimated more than 50 minke whales feeding off the coast of West Cork on Sunday 29 April.

“It is remarkable how the month of April extending into May, which was once considered by us whale watchers to be low season for any species, is rapidly becoming one of the busiest times of the year,” said Pádraig Wholley, sightings officer with the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG).

West Cork is also one of the best places in Ireland to see humpback whales, who can count marine wildlife specialist Emer Keaveney among their biggest fans.

The “ambassadors of the world’s oceans” are coming to Irish waters in increasing numbers, as Tom MacSweeney stated earlier today.

And they are also the subject of a groundbreaking expedition to Iceland this summer on board the IWDG’s research vessel Celtic Mist.

Elsewhere, the sighting of a dolphin attacking a porpoise off Scotland could point to increased competition over a food source.

As the Irish Examiner reports, dramatic images captured in the Moray Firth earlier this month were part of a series of ‘unusual’ sightings of bottlenose dolphin attacks.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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#CelticMist - Join the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group at Dublin’s Grand Canal Dock this Sunday 20 May to celebrate before its research vessel Celtic Mist embarks on a historic marine wildlifearine wildlife expedition to Iceland.

As Coast Monkey reports, visitors on the afternoon from 2pm-5pm will have the opportunity to chat with the crew and marine scientists taking part in the 2018 IWDG Humpback Whale Expedition, as well as take a tour of the Celtic Mist before its final fitting in Donegal.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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#MarineWildlife - Amid a flurry of activity off the Bear Peninsula in West Cork last week was the discovery of a new humpback whale visitor to Irish waters.

Using images captured by marine mammal observation officer Patrick Lyne near Inchydoney on Saturday 31 March, the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group was able to confirm it was a small humpback not previously recorded — and it is now the 86th edition of the species to the IWDG’s catalogue.

“In recent years this resource has seen impressive growth, as humpback sightings have outstripped the larger fin whales,” says IWDG sightings officer Pádraig Wholley. “Of particular interest is 2015, when in a single year the number of individuals more than doubled from 30 to 66 animals.”

The IWDG appeals to anyone who has the opportunity to observe or photograph humpback whales this year to pay special attention to ether the ventral flukes or dorsal fins, which can help identify what whales they are and where they might be coming from.

In other cetacean news, BBC News profiles Northern Ireland's only ‘whale listener’, Co Down woman Sharon Doake

Using specialised sonic equipment, Dr Doake's job entails searching for signs of whale and dolphin activity during surveys for offshore oil and gas prospects.

This is particularly important as such seismic surveys can at best scare cetaceans away from their usual feeding grounds, and even potentially cause physical damage.

“It’s not bad to use this equipment but it’s just that we need to mitigate any effect it can have,” she says. BBC News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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#MarineWildlife - Two killer whales spotted feeding off the Blasket Islands earlier this week have been identified as members of a unique pod from Scotland.

“Killer whale sightings in any Irish waters are rare events, and they seem to be getting rarer,” said Pádraig Wholley of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, whose member Nick Massett photographed the orcas in Dingle Bay on Monday 5 March.

Massett identified one of the two cetaceans immediately as John Coe, and its partner as another adult male, Aquarius. RTÉ News says the orcas were likely hunting seals in the area.

Both are members of the genetically distinctive Scottish West Coast Community Group, which commonly feeds in the Hebridean Islands but has previously been found as far as Lough Swilly and Scotland’s east coast, likely in search of food.

“Colleagues from the Hebridean Whale & Dolphin Trust can confirm that John Coe was seen exactly seven days [previously] in Scottish waters … which tells us a lot about the movements of this highly mobile apex predator,” said Wholley.

The Scottish West Coast Community Group has been feared to be on the ‘brink of extinction’ for many years. In January 2016 the pod lost a female member, Lulu, due to what was at first thought to be entanglement with fishing gear but was later blamed on PCB pollution.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineScience - The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group’s Shannon Dolphin Project is seeking research assistants from May-September 2018 based in Kilrush, Co Clare.

Research assistants will be required to conduct monitoring surveys from dolphin-watching tour boats, spend a considerable amount of time on Shannon Estuary bottlenose dolphin photo identification and related office tasks, and assist in the management of the dolphin centre on a daily basis.

Photo ID training will be provided on the boats and in the office. There will also be the opportunity to help with research conducted on board the IWDG’s research vessels Muc Mhara and Celtic Mist, and to assist the IWDG with cetacean strandings should the opportunity arise.

These positions provide an excellent opportunity to develop skills in marine research and education and to assist with one of the longest-running bottlenose dolphin population monitoring programs in Europe.

There is no monetary compensation for these positions and a contribution of €400 per month towards accommodation and utilities is required.

Volunteers will be expected to work and live as part of a team with shared cooking and cleaning duties. Accommodation will be provided in a shared house within walking distance of the dolphin centre and town of Kilrush. Research assistants are responsible for their own food costs and travel expenses to and from Kilrush.

The closing date for applications is Friday 30 March. However, early application is recommended. Shortlisted candidates will be required to undertake a Skype interview in April. Successful applicants will be notified by mid-April.

Full details on the positions can be found on the IWDG website HERE.

Published in Marine Science

#Lecture - The Friends of Glenua first 2018 lecture entilted ‘Whales & Dolphins in Ireland’ Current Knowledge & New Discoveries is to be presented by Dr. Simon Berrow, next Thursday 11 January. 

As usual the lecture programme is held in the Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club, Ringsend, Dublin 4 with the talk beginning at 20.00. There will be an entry €5 in aid of the RNLI.

Dr Simon Berrow was a founder member of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group and is currently their Head of Science. He is also a full time lecturer at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, teaching on the Applied Freshwater and Marine Biology degree and runs the long-term Shannon Dolphin Study on Bottlenose dolphins in the Shannon Estuary.

Simon has worked on whales and dolphins since 1989, largely in Ireland, but is also involved in a humpback whale study in Cape Verde and spent 2.5 years on South Georgia with the British Antarctic Survey.

In his talk, Simon will introduce the rich community of whales, dolphins and porpoises in Ireland to the audience. He will share some the findings of new studies on whales and dolphins in Ireland from inshore to offshore waters, from coastal to deep-diving species. Also he will discuss what we need to find out in order to conserve these magnificent creatures.

 

Published in Coastal Notes

#MarineWildlife - Four marine wildlife organisations will share in €2.56 million in funding for animal welfare throughout the State, as announced yesterday by Marine Minister Michael Creed.

Seal Rescue Ireland in Courtown, Co Wexford receives €12,000 for its efforts in rehabilitating seals and other marine wildlife, as well as providing training for rescuers across the country.

In other awards, Galway & Claddagh Swan Rescue in Barna has been allocated €5,000, while the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group receives €3,000, and the Oiled Wildlife Response Network, based at Shannon Foynes Port, will get €1,000.

“These bodies provide a great service to the community in their work in safeguarding animals,” said Minister Creed of the awards for 111 animal welfare groups.

“Many of today’s recipients provide facilities for neglected animals that sadly in a large number of instances have been abandoned by irresponsible owners, and the increased funding being awarded is evidence of my department’s ongoing commitment in protecting animal welfare and a recognition of the important role played by the many organisations throughout the country in safeguarding animals, particularly pet and companion animals.”

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Two common seals were released off the North Coast last week after being nursed back to health at the Exploris aquarium in Portaferry.

According to The Irish News, the seals named Hans and Albert had been with the sanctuary since the summer, when they arrived with various injuries.

However, by September both had put on weight and were eating by themselves, prompting Exploris staff to plan for their eventual release at Ballintoy Harbour last Wednesday (29 November).

In a techy twist, Hans and Albert have been microchipped so their progress can be monitored from shore over the next few weeks and months.

Also in the care of Exploris staff is a baby seal rescued from a rocky outcrop off Bangor in Belfast Lough in late October.

BBC News has video of the tiny white seal pup, which was suspected to have an injured hip and damaged flipper likely suffered during Storm Ophelia.

Another presumed victim of the stormy weather was a seal recovered from Dun Laoghaire’s East Pier on Hallowe’en.

The Irish Times reports that the marine mammal had sustained injuries to its face and rear flipper, but was said to be doing well in the care of volunteers from the Courtown Seal Rescue Centre in Co Wexford.

More recently, a number of stranded dolphins were successfully returned to the water off Achill Island by locals and volunteers on Tuesday 21 November.

Four common dolphins were reflected from Keem Beach, though a fifth was found dead on nearby rocks. The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) removed the carcass to determine its cause of death, as the Mayo News reports.

Back on the North Coast, BelfastLive says a six-metre whale carcass surprised locals at Runkerry Strand near Portballintrae on 24 November.

The find came just weeks after a much larger fin whale carcass was found on Arranmore off the Donegal coast, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Residents on Arranmore off the Donegal coast were surprised to find a rare whale carcass washed up on their island over the weekend.

According to BBC News, the 20-metre cetacean is believed to be a fin whale, an endangered species not normally spotted so close to Irish shores.

Though photo opportunities may be tempting, the public has been urged to stay away from the carcass for health and safety reasons.

Fin whales are sometimes spotted offshore, says Dave Wall of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG), who added that this whale was likely dead for some time before its carcass beached.

It’s not known what causes the fin whale’s death. But marine debris — especially microbeads from bathroom products – is a growing threat to all whales, dolphins and porpoise in Irish waters, as the IWDG recently reported.

Citing a new study that found marine debris (such as plastic bags and fish hooks) in the digestive tracts of 8.5% of cetaceans examined, the IWDG highlights that micro-plastics were present in the guts of every animal in the study.

“While larger marine debris has been shown to cause impaction of the gut and other complications which can lead to death, the impact of micro-plastic contamination is not known,” says the group.

“It is thought it can act as a vehicle for persistent pollutants, which adhere to the large surface area resulting in a potential increase in contaminant burdens in marine mammals.”

The IWDG has more on the study HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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#MarineWildlife - The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has expressed its dismay at another record year for cetacean standings around the Irish coast.

The first eight months of 2017 alone have seen 201 recorded strandings - up 30% compared to the same period in the last two years.

“As in recent years, the numbers of dead common dolphins recorded are very high, with 78 records for this species to the end of August 2017 accounting for 39% of all strandings,” says IWDG strandings officer Mick O’Connell, who notes that the numbers of dead dolphins washing ashore in late winter and spring has grown unusually high.

“Even in a series of years with particularly high numbers of this species stranding since 2011, 2017 is well ahead of the previous two ‘record’ years by the end of August — 66 in 2016 and 53 in 2013.

“These are, of course, minimum numbers as we don't know how many dead animals go unrecorded and also many unidentified dolphins which aren't identifiable to species level are likely to be common dolphins,” he adds.

The IWDG is currently working with the Marine Institute, Department of Agriculture and National Parks and Wildlife service on a post-mortem scheme for common dolphins, striped dolphins and harbour porpoises which is hoped will shed new light on what might be causing this alarming rise in cetacean deaths.

Meanwhile, there was more positive news from the recent all-Ireland whale watch at the end of August, where three-quarters of the 20 sites around the island recorded sightings.

Around 1,300 whale watchers and wildlife enthusiasts spotted eight species of cetacean between them — with the busiest site at Loop Head in Co Kerry, where 120 lucky visitors got to see two humpback whales, five minke whales, six bottlenose and a whopping 50 common dolphins.

Other marine wildlife species spotted around the coast included Risso’s dolphins, blue fin tuna, ocean sunfish and grey seals.

More recently, the IWDG’s Celtic Mist embarked on a week-long survey of the waters around North and West Kerry, and its crew shared a video of some of their sightings.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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