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Displaying items by tag: IWDG

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group has celebrated a milestone with the confirmation of the 100th and 101st individual humpback whales in its catalogue of Ireland’s waters.

The sightings were made last Monday 20 July by Nick Massett in outer Dingle Bay — and reflect just how far the IWDG has come with its marine wildlife monitoring project, says IWDG sightings officer Pádraig Whooley.

Proper records first began in September 1999 with just three humpbacks spotted off the Kinsale Gas Fields in West Cork, and averaged fewer than one a year until the end of the Noughties, when the record totalled 12.

Humpback whale sightings became more numerous and West Cork it seemed no longer had a monopoly

“Then during the second decade, there was a change,” Whooley said.

“Humpback whale sightings became more numerous and West Cork it seemed no longer had a monopoly on the Big Winged New Englander, as individuals starting showing up as far east as Hook Head and Curracloe in Co Wexford.

“But there was always a sense that these were outliers; the real range expansion was further west off the Slea Head Peninsula, Co Kerry.

“During the second half of the decade it seemed fairly evenly split between the West Cork and West Kerry hotspots.

“That was until 2015 when something changed in the northeast Atlantic and in this year alone we doubled the numbers of animals on the catalogue from 33 to 66, with most of these showing up in West Kerry and almost all of them being new animals, never previously documented in Irish waters.”

This was also when the international research community began to take notice, especially since Irish sightings “were coming from an area where previously few humpbacks had been recorded”, Whooley said.

“We started off 2020 with 97 individually recognisable humpback whales, and it was always likely to be a big year for the catalogue, even with Covid.”

He added: “To have reached 100 by 2020, although not quite exponential, it is remarkable and surely mirrors the global recovery of this most iconic species.”

And the latest additions to the catalogue are not the only cause for celebration, as the IWDG have also made their third Irish match to the Cape Verde breeding grounds — the second this year after Ireland’s long-suspected link to the waters off West Africa was confirmed a year ago.

“It’s a great story and one IWDG look forward to sharing with you over the next 21 years,” Whooley said. “It seems humpback whales have an endless capacity to inspire both whale watchers and whale researchers alike.”

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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A new hour-long documentary following the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) on a unique research expedition to the Arctic Circle is now available to rent and watch on demand.

On The Trail Of The Humpback Whale tells the story of the IWDG’s weeks-long passage to Iceland two years ago in search of humpback whales, building links with the country and its people among the way.

Tony Whelan of Canola Pictures — which also produced The Humpback Whales of Cape Verde — was along for the voyage, documenting the team’s encounters with local people and marine wildlife alike.

The IWDG previously brought the story of their adventure on a nationwide tour — and now it can be enjoyed at home on your choice of computer, tablet, smartphone or streaming box.

Published in Marine Wildlife

How many basking sharks have reclaimed the waters off the South and West Coasts? “We don’t really know” is the honest answer from the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group.

But after a video of surfers in a close encounter with a school of the marine wildlife giants went viral last week, it’s become clear that the numbers — potentially into the thousands — are remarkable, if not unusual.

Getting a complete picture, however, “would require something like an aerial survey”, says IWDG sightings officer Pádraig Whooley.

In the meantime, their close proximity to the shore to feed on zooplankton presents “a fantastic opportunity for the members of the public to observe and record their observations to the IWDG, and thus make a real contribution to marine conservation”.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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A surfing quartet got up close with a school of basking sharks off Co Clare at the weekend, as the Irish Examiner reports.

The surfers had brought a GoPro camera to video their wave-riding exploits, which came in handy to capture their encounter with as many as 20 of the giant marine wildlife on Saturday afternoon (2 May).

“They were quite slow and peaceful, and they just came towards us and cruised past,” says Tom Gillespie, one of the four and who recorded the footage.

“We just tried to make sure we didn’t look like plankton.”

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) suggests that sightings of basking sharks in recent weeks indicate there could be “hundreds of animals” in a hotspot between Clare and the Aran Islands.

But while such large groupings are unusual, they are not unprecedented, according to the IWDG’s sightings officer Pádraig Whooley.

“As we are still less than mid-way through the shark season, it’s a little premature to be calling this a record year for sharks,” he said. “Better to wait till the end of the season when we can review all the sightings data and reflect on how good a season this has been the planet’s second biggest fish.”

Despite their fearsome size, basking sharks feed only on plankton and pose no threat to humans.

But that should not serve as any encouragement to take a dip while as social distancing measures remain in place.

Published in Surfing
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Nearly half of all humpback whales identified in Irish waters have been spotted off the coast of Co Kerry.

That’s according to new figures from the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG), which also reveal that nearly 100 of the marine wildlife giants have been individually catalogued over the past 20 years — many of them return visitors.

IWDG chief executive Dr Simon Berrow tells the Irish Mirror that ‘citizen science’ contributions in the form of photos of cetaceans spotted offshore have been key to developing its catalogue of confirmed sightings.

“For someone to go out and find the whale, photograph the whale, recognise the whale and then go out and do it again a second or third time in the same season and give the information to us, is phenomenal,” he says.

Kerry leads the way for humpback whale sightings, accounting for almost half (46%) of the total.

But neighbouring Cork, at 42%, isn’t much further behind — and Waterford, Wexford, Galway and Clare also present good sighting opportunities.

The Irish Mirror has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
Tagged under

A new home education initiative from the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group goes live on social media this morning (Friday 3 April) with its latest edition.

Join Sibéal Regan, Simon Berrow, and other marine mammal experts from 11am for Flukey Friday on Facebook Live, and learn all about the whales and dolphins that populate Irish waters.

The virtual classroom, which started last Friday 27 March, encourages viewers to contribute their whale stories or questions live in the comments — or by email to [email protected] before next week’s session.

It comes as the Irish National Sailing & Powerboat School launched its own ‘Sailing School from Home’ remote learning programme, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Meanwhile, the IWDG has also launched a ‘Flukey Art’ competition for children ages 13 and under who are challenged to create marine wildlife-themed art in any medium of their choosing.

Details of how to enter are HERE and the winner will be announced in June.

Published in Marine Wildlife

Despite desktop research replacing field work during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group recently made a breakthrough in confirming a second Irish humpback whale at breeding grounds off Cape Verde — following last year’s confirmation of what was long suspected by researchers.

The match with HBIRL78 — first sighted off Hook Head in January 2017 — was made in collaboration with Lindsey Jones of the North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalogue and “suggests we were right to invest our time and energy into this archipelago”, writes IWDG sightings officer Pádraig Whooley.

Although there is little chance of any further trips this breeding season, with Cape Verde having shut down like much of the world to control the spread of the virus, the latest find will be encouraging when field work can resume in 2021.

“HBIRL78 may still be in the waters of Sal Rei Bay, Boa Vista, looking to mate or give birth, and if this is the case, it still has a long 4,250 km northbound journey ahead of it,” says Whooley. “It could of course have completed it’s reproductive mission, in which case it may be little more than a few weeks away from finding itself within scoping range of our southwest headlands.

“Whether of course we’ll be able to get out on boats to photograph it when it does return will be down to a much smaller and far less welcome organism. But given the current Covid-19 environment, I can think of nothing better for body, soul or mind, than to sit on a headland for a few hours and try to spot our returning humpbacks.”

Published in Marine Wildlife

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) is seeking a new sponsor for its “pioneering” WhaleTrack Ireland project.

Previously backed by Ryanair, WhaleTrack Ireland seeks to understand how the large marine wildlife — especially humpback whales — are using Irish waters, largely through citizen science.

During the last 12 months, the IWDG says it has increased its work raising awareness of humpback whales “to unprecedented levels in Ireland”.

This includes the first ever confirmation of breeding grounds in Cape Verde for whales that frequent Irish shores.

“In order to continue this important work the IWDG need a new sponsor,” the group says.

“We have significant capital equipment purchased under the Ryanair sponsorship but require funds to support fieldwork and maintain our photo ID catalogues and provide support to our citizen scientists.

“This work supports the development of marine tourism in Ireland and greatly enhances the opportunities to go and see these magnificent creatures as well as ensuring their long-term conservation.

“The IWDG estimates that this costs around €40,000 per annum to maintain our current level of activity.”

Prospective sponsors, or those who could connect the group with same, are encouraged to get in touch with the IWDG at [email protected]

Published in Marine Wildlife

The skeleton of a Wexford blue whale (82ft long) named Hope has supplanted ‘Dippy’, the much loved Diplodocus, as the main attraction at Hintz Hall in the National History Museum in London, reports The Green News.ie

“Look at the whale!” exclaim the children pointing upward, their small bodies further miniaturised as they pass beneath Hope’s colossal ribcage, comprised of 32 ribs and once housing a 500-pound beating heart.

One gets the impression their wonder and excitement is well matched by the sheer scale of Hope herself, her majesty, as well as the efforts taken by the museum staff to put her together – installing the largest living creature on Earth, bone by bone, in an act as deliberate as it was precise.

By replacing Dippy, a replica dinosaur, for something real, Hope’s keepers have inspired wonder for all wild creatures that exist today in an increasingly hostile world, with our whales all too often caught in the crosshairs.

Everything is changing

At the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group’s annual meeting held in Dublin last December, the phrase “everything is changing” summed up Ireland’s whale activity. While Sightings Officer Pádraig Whooley reported the huge potential for whale science in Ireland, the “flurry of sightings” in 2019 gives cause for concern. Times are changing, he said.

For much more click this link.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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The Irish Navy Fleet

The Naval Service is the State's principal seagoing agency. The Naval Service operates jointly with the Army and Air Corps.

The fleet comprises one Helicopter Patrol Vessel (HPV), three Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV), two Large Patrol Vessel (LPV) and two Coastal Patrol Vessels (CPV). Each vessel is equipped with state of the art machinery, weapons, communications and navigation systems.

LÉ EITHNE P31

LE Eithne was built in Verlome Dockyard in Cork and was commissioned into service in 1984. She patrols the Irish EEZ and over the years she has completed numerous foreign deployments.

Type Helicopter Patrol Vessel
Length 80.0m
Beam 12m
Draught 4.3m
Main Engines 2 X Ruston 12RKC Diesels6, 800 HP2 Shafts
Speed 18 knots
Range 7000 Nautical Miles @ 15 knots
Crew 55 (6 Officers)
Commissioned 7 December 1984

LÉ ORLA P41

L.É. Orla was formerly the HMS SWIFT a British Royal Navy patrol vessel stationed in the waters of Hong Kong. She was purchased by the Irish State in 1988. She scored a notable operational success in 1993 when she conducted the biggest drug seizure in the history of the state at the time, with her interception and boarding at sea of the 65ft ketch, Brime.

Type Coastal Patrol Vessel
Length 62.6m
Beam 10m
Draught 2.7m
Main Engines 2 X Crossley SEMT- Pielstick Diesels 14,400 HP 2 Shafts
Speed 25 + Knots
Range 2500 Nautical Miles @ 17 knots
Crew 39 (5 Officers)

LÉ CIARA P42

L.É. Ciara was formerly the HMS SWALLOW a British Royal Navy patrol vessel stationed in the waters of Hong Kong. She was purchased by the Irish State in 1988. She scored a notable operational success in Nov 1999 when she conducted the second biggest drug seizure in the history of the state at that time, with her interception and boarding at sea of MV POSIDONIA of the south-west coast of Ireland.

Type Coastal Patrol Vessel
Length 62.6m
Beam 10m
Draught 2.7m
Main Engines 2 X Crossley SEMT- Pielstick Diesels 14,400 HP 2 Shafts
Speed 25 + Knots
Range 2500 Nautical Miles @ 17 knots
Crew 39 (5 Officers)

LÉ ROISIN P51

L.É. Roisin (the first of the Roisín class of vessel) was built in Appledore Shipyards in the UK for the Naval Service in 2001. She was built to a design that optimises her patrol performance in Irish waters (which are some of the roughest in the world), all year round. For that reason a greater length overall (78.8m) was chosen, giving her a long sleek appearance and allowing the opportunity to improve the conditions on board for her crew. 

Type Long Offshore Patrol Vessel
Length 78.84m
Beam 14m
Draught 3.8m
Main Engines 2 X Twin 16 cly V26 Wartsila 26 medium speed Diesels
5000 KW at 1,000 RPM 2 Shafts
Speed 23 knots
Range 6000 Nautical Miles @ 15 knots
Crew 44 (6 Officers)
Commissioned 18 September 2001

LÉ NIAMH P52

L.É. Niamh (the second of the Róisín class) was built in Appledore Shipyard in the UK for the Naval Service in 2001. She is an improved version of her sister ship, L.É.Roisin

Type Long Offshore Patrol Vessel
Length 78.84m
Beam 14m
Draught 3.8m
Main Engines 2 X Twin 16 cly V26 Wartsila 26 medium speed Diesels
5000 KW at 1,000 RPM 2 Shafts
Speed 23 knots
Range 6000 Nautical Miles @ 15 knots
Crew 44 (6 Officers)
Commissioned 18 September 2001

LÉ SAMUEL BECKETT P61

LÉ Samuel Beckett is an Offshore Patrol Vessel built and fitted out to the highest international standards in terms of safety, equipment fit, technological innovation and crew comfort. She is also designed to cope with the rigours of the North-East Atlantic.

Type Offshore Patrol Vessel
Length 90.0m
Beam 14m
Draught 3.8m
Main Engines 2 x Wärtsilä diesel engines and Power Take In, 2 x shafts, 10000kw
Speed 23 knots
Range 6000 Nautical Miles @ 15 knots
Crew 44 (6 Officers)

LÉ JAMES JOYCE P62

LÉ James Joyce is an Offshore Patrol Vessel and represents an updated and lengthened version of the original RÓISÍN Class OPVs which were also designed and built to the Irish Navy specifications by Babcock Marine Appledore and she is truly a state of the art ship. She was commissioned into the naval fleet in September 2015. Since then she has been constantly engaged in Maritime Security and Defence patrolling of the Irish coast. She has also deployed to the Defence Forces mission in the Mediterranean from July to end of September 2016, rescuing 2491 persons and recovering the bodies of 21 deceased

Type Offshore Patrol Vessel
Length 90.0m
Beam 14m
Draught 3.8m
Main Engines 2 x Wärtsilä diesel engines and Power Take In, 2 x shafts, 10000kw
Speed 23 knots
Range 6000 Nautical Miles @ 15 knots
Crew 44 (6 Officers)

LÉ WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS P63

L.É. William Butler Yeats was commissioned into the naval fleet in October 2016. Since then she has been constantly engaged in Maritime Security and Defence patrolling of the Irish coast. She has also deployed to the Defence Forces mission in the Mediterranean from July to October 2017, rescuing 704 persons and recovering the bodies of three deceased.

Type Offshore Patrol Vessel
Length 90.0m
Beam 14m
Draught 3.8m
Main Engines 2 x Wärtsilä diesel engines and Power Take In, 2 x shafts, 10000kw
Speed 23 knots
Range 6000 Nautical Miles @ 15 knots
Crew 44 (6 Officers)

LÉ GEORGE BERNARD SHAW P64

LÉ George Bernard Shaw (pennant number P64) is the fourth and final ship of the P60 class vessels built for the Naval Service in Babcock Marine Appledore, Devon. The ship was accepted into State service in October 2018, and, following a military fit-out, commenced Maritime Defence and Security Operations at sea.

Type Offshore Patrol Vessel
Length 90.0m
Beam 14m
Draught 3.8m
Main Engines 2 x Wärtsilä diesel engines and Power Take In, 2 x shafts, 10000kw
Speed 23 knots
Range 6000 Nautical Miles @ 15 knots
Crew 44 (6 Officers)

Ship information courtesy of the Defence Forces

About the Irish Navy

The Navy maintains a constant presence 24 hours a day, 365 days a year throughout Ireland’s enormous and rich maritime jurisdiction, upholding Ireland’s sovereign rights. The Naval Service is tasked with a variety of roles including defending territorial seas, deterring intrusive or aggressive acts, conducting maritime surveillance, maintaining an armed naval presence, ensuring right of passage, protecting marine assets, countering port blockades; people or arms smuggling, illegal drugs interdiction, and providing the primary diving team in the State.

The Service supports Army operations in the littoral and by sea lift, has undertaken supply and reconnaissance missions to overseas peace support operations and participates in foreign visits all over the world in support of Irish Trade and Diplomacy.  The eight ships of the Naval Service are flexible and adaptable State assets. Although relatively small when compared to their international counterparts and the environment within which they operate, their patrol outputs have outperformed international norms.

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