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Displaying items by tag: bottlenose dolphins

Dusty the dolphin last weekend treated two SCUBA diving sisters to an encounter they will never forget, as RTÉ News reports.

Jessica and Jennifer Smith were diving with their father Finbar as part of a group with the Burren Sub Aqua Club last Saturday (1 May) when they were approached by the inquisitive bottlenose, who has been a fixture of the West Clare coast for some 20 years.

Previous encounters have been mixed — in particular an incident reported in Doolin some years ago in which a woman was hospitalised.

But the teens were delighted to meet a much calmer Dusty, who may have been surprised to find humans in the water after months of restrictions prevented group dives.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

Miracle dolphin Spirtle has returned to her home waters in the north-east of Scotland after her summer spent off Ireland’s south-west coast, as BBC News reports.

The bottlenose dolphin with a distinctive sunburn scar was spotted with her family group in the Moray Firth this past Tuesday (17 December) — four months and hundreds of miles away from their last sightings in the waters off Co Kerry.

Spirtle initially surprised marine wildlife experts when she survived a live stranding ordeal in 2016 in which she suffered severe sunburn — and again this past summer when she and a number of her group were tracked heading south from Scotland through the Irish Sea.

A spokesperson for Whale and Dolphin Conservation said 2019 “has been a very unusual year for this dolphin population’s movements around the UK and overseas to the Dutch coast — it might not be quite finished yet”.

In other news, the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) says competition for food “seems to be growing more intense” for fin whales in the waters off Co Waterford, who made a more fleeting visit than usual for this time of year.

Published in Marine Wildlife

Marine wildlife miracle Spirtle appears to have taken up residence off the Kerry coast if the many sightings over recent weeks are anything to go by.

Last month the young dolphin was spotted in the area some weeks after she was seen off the East Coast, headed south from her usual haunt off the west of Scotland.

Indeed, it was there where she live stranded in 2016 and suffered severe sunburn, which left her with her distinctive markings.

Despite fears that she wouldn’t survive her ordeal, Spirtle returned to fine health and is now part of a small pod regularly feeding off Feit in Tralee Bay, and which includes a juvenile, according to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG).

Researchers are now trying to establish if Spirtle became part of this group after her long travels, or whether they swam with her from Scotland.

Initial evidence suggests at least two of her pod are Scottish regulars, including Spirtle’s own mother Porridge.

“We have documented movements of individual bottlenose dolphins between Ireland and Scotland before, but we do not know how often this occurs or whether it is typical behaviour,” the IWDG said.

“We hope to continue to monitor the presence of this famous ‘Scottish’ dolphin and see if she stays or travels further,” the group added.

Published in Marine Wildlife

Nearly two months after she was spotted off the East Coast, Spirtle the dolphin has been filmed frolicking off the shores of Kerry, as the Irish Mirror reports.

The young dolphin is distinctive for the heavy scarring and discolouration on her right flank — caused by severe sunburn wen she live stranded on a Scottish beach in 2016.

Having bounced back from that brush with death, her wounds gradually healing over the years, Spirtle was recently sighted at the lead of a group of bottlenose dolphins that was making its way south along the Irish Sea.

Marine wildlife experts are now trying to establish if this pod has now made it to the Kingdom, as Spirtle was caught on camera by Dr Joanne O’Brien in recent days with around 20 other bottlenose dolphins in Tralee and Brandon bays.

There is no word as yet on whether Spirtle and her colleagues paid a visit to Dingle’s longtime resident dolphin, Fungie.

Published in Marine Wildlife

Sightings of an unusual looking bottlenose dolphin off the East Coast in recent weeks have turned out to be a Scottish scrapper named Spirtle.

Images of the dolphin seen off South Dublin and North Wicklow earlier this month showed what appeared to be heavy scarring and discolouration on its right flank.

That was enough for Dr Joanne O’Brien of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) to identify the animal as the daughter of a dolphin well known in the Moray Firth.

Spirtle’s story is one of survival as almost three years ago to this day, she was found live stranded with significant injuries and suffering severe dehydration.

Since then she’s bounced right back from the brink of death, and it appears she’s now even at the lead of a group of bottlenose dolphins that’s made its way south along the Irish Sea beyond Dublin Bay.

A rare sighting of a different kind was made in West Cork this past week, where a charter boat operator witnessed what he believed was an attack on a pod of common dolphins by a killer whale.

David Edwards was 15 miles south of Galley Head last Tuesday (21 May) when he saw the orca chase after its fellow cetaceans for its lunch — and his images of the event have been confirmed by IWDG sightings officer Padraig Whooley.

Echo Live has more on the story HERE.

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

#MarineWildlife - Conservationists want Tralee Bay and Brandon Bay in North Kerry to be declared a protected marine wildlife zone for bottlenose dolphins.

The call comes in the wake of new research by the Irish Whale Dolphin Group (IWDG) in tandem with the Shannon Dolphin and Wildlife Foundation, which has identified the vast majority of bottlenose dolphins in North Kerry as members of the Shannon Estuary group that has enjoyed Marine Protected Area status since 2000.

“We knew dolphins had been regularly observed in Brandon Bay,” said the IWDG’s Dr Simon Berrow of the new research, “but did not know which population they belonged to and had no idea they were as abundant and frequent as this study has shown.”

Stephanie Levesque, senior author of the study, added that the research identified “very high numbers of Shannon dolphins present during the summer months in Brandon and Tralee Bays.

“If further surveys were to be carried out at various times of the year, including collecting behavioural data, it could help us to better understand how they are using these habitats.”

Elsewhere on the West Coast, Galway Bay FM reports on efforts in Connemara to form local groups in Oughterard and Letterfrack which are designated for the protection of pearl mussels.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - The 21st year of dolphin research in the Shannon Estuary is off to an amazing start after the first ever dolphin recorded in the estuary was spotted on the Kerry coast.

As the Shannon Dolphin and Wildlife Foundation (SDWF) reports, the dolphin known as 'No 1' was sighted in Brandon Bay on Saturday 25 May swimming in a group of three.

No 1 is happily a familiar sight in the region, having been recorded most years since the project began in 1993.

"It has long been known that Shannon dolphins regularly use Tralee and Brandon Bays but how important the area is in not clear," says the SDWF on its blog. "If we are to protect the Shannon dolphins we need to ensure we identify all their important habitats and extend protection to these areas if necessary."

Meanwhile, its been confirmed that the trio of bottlenose dolphins who took up residence near Bunratty Castle in the spring have been observed in the mainstream of the Shannon Estuary.

The three were spotted on the first monitoring trip of the summer from Kilrush last week by SDWF researchers of Moneypoint.

"This demonstrates again the value of long term monitoring and the power of a photo ID catalogue to monitor the Shannon dolphins," says the SDWF blog.

In other cetacean news, an in-depth discussion of the Shannon's dolphins and the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group's (IWDG) research of bottlenose dolphins around the Irish coastline was broadcast on Derek Mooney's afternoon show on RTÉ Radio 1 recently.

A podcast of the 30-minute segment of Mooney Goes Wild from Friday 31 May is available to download HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#DALKEY ISLAND PROSPECT - The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has joined the chorus of opposition to the proposed oil and gas exploration off Dalkey Island in Co Dublin.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Providence Resources has applied for a foreshore licence to search for oil or gas about 6km out to sea on the Kish Bank Basin.

But the prospect has provoked a split in the local community over the potential risks and benefits, with many calling for a public enquiry into the licence before it is granted.

This evening an urgent meeting in Dun Laoghaire will address the public's concerns, which have been echoed by the IWDG.

"The Kish Bank and adjacent waters are important for cetaceans," said the group in a statement. "In addition, sightings of bottlenose dolphins have increased dramatically in the area following the presence of a group of three individuals since August 2010."

The IWDG is concerned about the potential effects on dolphins and porpoises that "could due to noise generated from the drilling process", noting that "there is little published data on the intensity and effects of sound generated by drilling".

Protest group Protect Our Coast has launched a online petition against the Dalkey Island Prospect citing concerns over the proximity of the drilling area to the mainland as well as the Special Protection Area of Dalkey Island, which is a haven for marine wildlife.

Published in Coastal Notes

#'DALKEY ISLAND' PROSPECT – In response to a proposed exploratory search for oil and gas operation by Providence Resources off Dalkey Island, Co. Dublin, as previously reported on Afloat.ie, a public meeting is to be held by Dalkey Community Council next week, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The meeting to be held next Tuesday in Dalkey Town Hall (at 7.30 p.m.) is to discuss the Providence venture, named 'Dalkey Island' prospect, in reference to the island off the south-side suburb. The island and the coast along Dalkey is geographically the nearest landfall to where the proposed 'jack-up' drill rig would operate in block (33/21) in the Kish Bank Basin.

An online petition (see www.protectourcoast.net)  by campaigners, entitled 'Protect Dublin Bay, Dalkey Island and Killiney Bay from Large Oil Drill 2012', has already gained large support, including signatures from overseas. They are in protest over Providence Resources application for a foreshore license which has been lodged with the Department of Environment.

Providence Resources propose to drill a single borehole for the exploratory well which is likely to be in an area only 6kms offshore of the Dalkey coastline. The island is designated a Special Protection Area (SPA) and notably where there have been sightings of bottlenose dolphins in neighbouring Killiney Bay.

Should the oil be commercially viable, the benefits of becoming self-sufficient and security of supply would be of significant economic benefit to Ireland. To date 100% of the country's oil and 95% of its gas is currently imported, and yet most of Ireland's natural resources are unexplored, according to Providence Resources.

Exploration is an expensive exercise and has no guarantee of discovery while the timeframe from discovery to production can typically take five to seven years.

"Yet," say Providence Resources, "the implications of discovering and utilising such a natural resource, and potentially becoming self-sufficient in energy terms, would be of significant economic benefit for Ireland Inc. in terms of taxation, employment, security of supply and skills development."

To read more information about Dalkey Island Prospect from Providence Resources, with maps, montages (including views from White Rock Beach) newsletters and video presentation visit www.providenceresources.com/dalkeyisland.aspx

Published in Coastal Notes
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Irish Fishing industry 

The Irish Commercial Fishing Industry employs around 11,000 people in fishing, processing and ancillary services such as sales and marketing. The industry is worth about €1.22 billion annually to the Irish economy. Irish fisheries products are exported all over the world as far as Africa, Japan and China.

FAQs

Over 16,000 people are employed directly or indirectly around the coast, working on over 2,000 registered fishing vessels, in over 160 seafood processing businesses and in 278 aquaculture production units, according to the State's sea fisheries development body Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

All activities that are concerned with growing, catching, processing or transporting fish are part of the commercial fishing industry, the development of which is overseen by BIM. Recreational fishing, as in angling at sea or inland, is the responsibility of Inland Fisheries Ireland.

The Irish fishing industry is valued at 1.22 billion euro in gross domestic product (GDP), according to 2019 figures issued by BIM. Only 179 of Ireland's 2,000 vessels are over 18 metres in length. Where does Irish commercially caught fish come from? Irish fish and shellfish is caught or cultivated within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ), but Irish fishing grounds are part of the common EU "blue" pond. Commercial fishing is regulated under the terms of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), initiated in 1983 and with ten-yearly reviews.

The total value of seafood landed into Irish ports was 424 million euro in 2019, according to BIM. High value landings identified in 2019 were haddock, hake, monkfish and megrim. Irish vessels also land into foreign ports, while non-Irish vessels land into Irish ports, principally Castletownbere, Co Cork, and Killybegs, Co Donegal.

There are a number of different methods for catching fish, with technological advances meaning skippers have detailed real time information at their disposal. Fisheries are classified as inshore, midwater, pelagic or deep water. Inshore targets species close to shore and in depths of up to 200 metres, and may include trawling and gillnetting and long-lining. Trawling is regarded as "active", while "passive" or less environmentally harmful fishing methods include use of gill nets, long lines, traps and pots. Pelagic fisheries focus on species which swim close to the surface and up to depths of 200 metres, including migratory mackerel, and tuna, and methods for catching include pair trawling, purse seining, trolling and longlining. Midwater fisheries target species at depths of around 200 metres, using trawling, longlining and jigging. Deepwater fisheries mainly use trawling for species which are found at depths of over 600 metres.

There are several segments for different catching methods in the registered Irish fleet – the largest segment being polyvalent or multi-purpose vessels using several types of gear which may be active and passive. The polyvalent segment ranges from small inshore vessels engaged in netting and potting to medium and larger vessels targeting whitefish, pelagic (herring, mackerel, horse mackerel and blue whiting) species and bivalve molluscs. The refrigerated seawater (RSW) pelagic segment is engaged mainly in fishing for herring, mackerel, horse mackerel and blue whiting only. The beam trawling segment focuses on flatfish such as sole and plaice. The aquaculture segment is exclusively for managing, developing and servicing fish farming areas and can collect spat from wild mussel stocks.

The top 20 species landed by value in 2019 were mackerel (78 million euro); Dublin Bay prawn (59 million euro); horse mackerel (17 million euro); monkfish (17 million euro); brown crab (16 million euro); hake (11 million euro); blue whiting (10 million euro); megrim (10 million euro); haddock (9 million euro); tuna (7 million euro); scallop (6 million euro); whelk (5 million euro); whiting (4 million euro); sprat (3 million euro); herring (3 million euro); lobster (2 million euro); turbot (2 million euro); cod (2 million euro); boarfish (2 million euro).

Ireland has approximately 220 million acres of marine territory, rich in marine biodiversity. A marine biodiversity scheme under Ireland's operational programme, which is co-funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and the Government, aims to reduce the impact of fisheries and aquaculture on the marine environment, including avoidance and reduction of unwanted catch.

EU fisheries ministers hold an annual pre-Christmas council in Brussels to decide on total allowable catches and quotas for the following year. This is based on advice from scientific bodies such as the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. In Ireland's case, the State's Marine Institute publishes an annual "stock book" which provides the most up to date stock status and scientific advice on over 60 fish stocks exploited by the Irish fleet. Total allowable catches are supplemented by various technical measures to control effort, such as the size of net mesh for various species.

The west Cork harbour of Castletownbere is Ireland's biggest whitefish port. Killybegs, Co Donegal is the most important port for pelagic (herring, mackerel, blue whiting) landings. Fish are also landed into Dingle, Co Kerry, Rossaveal, Co Galway, Howth, Co Dublin and Dunmore East, Co Waterford, Union Hall, Co Cork, Greencastle, Co Donegal, and Clogherhead, Co Louth. The busiest Northern Irish ports are Portavogie, Ardglass and Kilkeel, Co Down.

Yes, EU quotas are allocated to other fleets within the Irish EEZ, and Ireland has long been a transhipment point for fish caught by the Spanish whitefish fleet in particular. Dingle, Co Kerry has seen an increase in foreign landings, as has Castletownbere. The west Cork port recorded foreign landings of 36 million euro or 48 per cent in 2019, and has long been nicknamed the "peseta" port, due to the presence of Spanish-owned transhipment plant, Eiranova, on Dinish island.

Most fish and shellfish caught or cultivated in Irish waters is for the export market, and this was hit hard from the early stages of this year's Covid-19 pandemic. The EU, Asia and Britain are the main export markets, while the middle Eastern market is also developing and the African market has seen a fall in value and volume, according to figures for 2019 issued by BIM.

Fish was once a penitential food, eaten for religious reasons every Friday. BIM has worked hard over several decades to develop its appeal. Ireland is not like Spain – our land is too good to transform us into a nation of fish eaters, but the obvious health benefits are seeing a growth in demand. Seafood retail sales rose by one per cent in 2019 to 300 million euro. Salmon and cod remain the most popular species, while BIM reports an increase in sales of haddock, trout and the pangasius or freshwater catfish which is cultivated primarily in Vietnam and Cambodia and imported by supermarkets here.

The EU's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), initiated in 1983, pooled marine resources – with Ireland having some of the richest grounds and one of the largest sea areas at the time, but only receiving four per cent of allocated catch by a quota system. A system known as the "Hague Preferences" did recognise the need to safeguard the particular needs of regions where local populations are especially dependent on fisheries and related activities. The State's Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, based in Clonakilty, Co Cork, works with the Naval Service on administering the EU CFP. The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine and Department of Transport regulate licensing and training requirements, while the Marine Survey Office is responsible for the implementation of all national and international legislation in relation to safety of shipping and the prevention of pollution.

Yes, a range of certificates of competency are required for skippers and crew. Training is the remit of BIM, which runs two national fisheries colleges at Greencastle, Co Donegal and Castletownbere, Co Cork. There have been calls for the colleges to be incorporated into the third-level structure of education, with qualifications recognised as such.

Safety is always an issue, in spite of technological improvements, as fishing is a hazardous occupation and climate change is having its impact on the severity of storms at sea. Fishing skippers and crews are required to hold a number of certificates of competency, including safety and navigation, and wearing of personal flotation devices is a legal requirement. Accidents come under the remit of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board, and the Health and Safety Authority. The MCIB does not find fault or blame, but will make recommendations to the Minister for Transport to avoid a recurrence of incidents.

Fish are part of a marine ecosystem and an integral part of the marine food web. Changing climate is having a negative impact on the health of the oceans, and there have been more frequent reports of warmer water species being caught further and further north in Irish waters.

Brexit, Covid 19, EU policies and safety – Britain is a key market for Irish seafood, and 38 per cent of the Irish catch is taken from the waters around its coast. Ireland's top two species – mackerel and prawns - are 60 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively, dependent on British waters. Also, there are serious fears within the Irish industry about the impact of EU vessels, should they be expelled from British waters, opting to focus even more efforts on Ireland's rich marine resource. Covid-19 has forced closure of international seafood markets, with high value fish sold to restaurants taking a large hit. A temporary tie-up support scheme for whitefish vessels introduced for the summer of 2020 was condemned by industry organisations as "designed to fail".

Sources: Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Marine Institute, Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, Department of Transport © Afloat 2020

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