Displaying items by tag: Seabirds
Seabirds and sailors have a long history together. They are reputed to have guided lost sailors to land, led fishermen to catch fish and the sight of them has encouraged many a despairing sailor to realise that land is nearby. From the time a small bird, obviously tired, came out of nowhere to land on NCB Ireland when I was crewing aboard in the then Whitbread Round the World Race, I have been fascinated by how birds fly huge distances over the oceans. That bird stayed for over a day and we were anxious to feed and give it water. Then, sometime in the early dawn it left, heading for I know not where. The legendary Albatross is perhaps the most well-known bird of the seas. Whenever I am sailing in Cork Harbour and see birds dive out of the sky, plunging into and below the water to catch fish, I watch fascinated. When seagulls were being accused of attacking humans in their search for food, it was tme a sign of food lacking at sea as they came inland.
Birdwatch Ireland is the organisation which protects Ireland's birds and their habitats. Fintan Kelly, Policy Officer at Birdwatch, told me this week on the podcast below that one of the most troubling indications of the state of the broader marine environment comes from research carried out on the behaviour of seabirds, because they are excellent indicators of what is happening at and in the sea.
As I said at the outset, seabirds and humans have a long history together, but many species of seabirds are threatened by human activities, which all of us sailors should be concerned about. So I urge you to listen to what Fintan Kelly has to say. You might just think a lot more about the next birds you encounter at sea.
Listen to him on the podcast below where you can also hear how Lifeguards prevented 16,316 marine accidents and keep up with the pace of life on the offshore islands which is quite hectic.
Tom MacSweeney presents This Island Nation maritime programme
#MaritimeFestivals - The inaugural Cliffs of Moher Seabirds Festival will take place from 9 to 14 May at the famous Clare coastal attraction and in other locations around the Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark.
Over 60,000 seabirds can be seen at the Cliffs of Moher during the breeding season, including puffins, guillemots, razorbills, kittiwake and fulmar nesting a different levels of the cliffs.
The cliffs are a Special Protected Area for seabirds and are also home to other bird species such as peregrine falcons, choughs and ravens.
There is nowhere else on the mainland of Ireland where you can so easily see such a host of nesting seabirds from accessible viewing points on the grounds of the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience or from the boat of the Cliffs of Moher cruises from Doolin.
The Cliffs of Moher Seabirds Festival aims to celebrate the presence of "our feathered fishy friends" with a programme of family-friendly activities including 'seabird bingo', guided birdwatching and flight demonstrations.
The Southern Star reports on the 'Discover Wildlife Weekends' being run from Rosscarbery by local company Ireland's Wildlife starting this April, where those taking part will be led by expert guides to explore the coastal region and have the best opportunities to spot the many species of whales and dolphins that visit our shores.
Weather permitting, the weekends will also involve some offshore whale watching in the company of 'whale watch supremo' Colin Barnes and the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group's (IWDG) sightings co-ordinator Pádraig Whooley.
And birdwatching will also be a feature, as West Cork is a hotspot for our feathered friends - from merlins and peregrine falcons to coastal waders and more exotic fowl that skirt our coasts on their spring migrations.
The Southern Star has much more on the story HERE.
Meanwhile, marine sector stakeholders have expressed their concerns over the designation of six new offshore marine areas by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the six sites at Blackwater Bank in Wexford, the West Connacht coast, Hempton's Turbot Bank in Donegal, the Porcupine Bank Canyon off Kerry, the South-East Rockall Bank, and the stretch from Rockabill to Dalkey Island off Dublin have been proposed for designation as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) to protect marine habitats and species listed on the 1992 EU Habitats Directive.
But at a recent meeting at the Irish Farm Centre in Dublin, a coalition of fish farmers, fishermen and marine energy stakeholders have hit out at what they characterise as "the appalling handling of inshore designations since the 1990s by the State", which they claim "has resulted in hundreds of job losses and a flight of serious investment" from Ireland's coastal areas.
“Our experience of the Irish Government’s application of the EU Habitats Directive has been a saga of mismanagement, foot dragging and buck-passing which has left over 500 fish farming licences in limbo for over 10 years and a backlog of red tape and bureaucracy which could see producers waiting until 2020 and beyond for simple renewals which are vital to underpin their businesses," said IFA aquaculture executive Richie Flynn.
The two seal pups were found in an emaciated and malnourished state by a beach walker on 27 November.
According to Irish Whale and Dolphin Group chair Kevin MacCormick, dead seal strandings are not unusual at this time of year, particularly after stormy weather, and grey seals have an especially high mortality rate.
Tramua wounds and blood found on the seals were put down to predation by seabirds.
Wildlife on Rathlin Island could be under threat if oil-drilling licences are awarded in the area, the Belfast Telegraph reports.
The north Antrim coast has been earmarked as a site for potential oil exploration in the latest round of British Government licensing, despite the area being designated as both a Special Protection Area and a Special Area of Conservation.
Environmental experts have warned of the devastating effect that oil drilling could have on marine wildlife on Rathlin Island and the nearby coastline.
"We've seen off the coast of Aberdeenshire that no matter how careful the drilling, there is always the risk of a spill," said Claire Ferry of the RSPB.
"In this case the spill happened far away from any vulnerable wildlife colonies, but just imagine the impact if that oil was washing onto a globally important seabird colony."
The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.
In addition to cruising this stretch of the River Liffey alongside the 'Docklands' quarter, the tour RIB boat will pass downriver through the East-Link toll bridge where visitors will get closer views of the variety of vessels and calling cruise liners from other ports throughout the world.
There will be five daily tours beginning at 10.00am, 12.00pm, 2.00pm, 4.00pm and 6.00pm.Tickets cost €15.00 for adults, €12.50 for students and the charge for senior citizens and children is €10.00.
In addition Sea Safari operate a 'River Liffey' only tour, a Dublin Bay 'North' and 'South' tours which visit Howth Head, Baily Lighthouse, Ireland's Eye and to Dalkey Island and Killiney Bay, where both bay tours provide a chance to spot local marine wildlife of seals, porpoises and sea birds.
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A new EU-funded project is tracking the movements of seabirds along the Atlantic coastlines of Ireland, the UK, France, Spain and Portugal.
The Future of the Atlantic Marine Environment (FAME) project aims to pinpoint areas that are important for Europe's seabirds. This knowledge may assist in the selection of marine conservation areas to protect declining species.
According to Surfbirds News, the researchers are taping tiny GPS trackers to the backs of seabirds, allowing the scientists to accurately pinpoint their movements between the birds' nesting colonies and the areas of sea they use to find food.
"Up to now we've known very little about the movements of these birds when they venture out to sea to find food," said seabird scientist Dr Ellie Owen. "But now, just when these birds need our help, we're on the cusp of filling this information void with vitally-important data."
Surfbirds News has more on the story HERE.
Fastnet Line which runs the Cork-Swansea port route on the Celtic Sea, is assisting the charity MarineLife to monitor cetaceans, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The work of MarineLife is to survey the population trends and track the movements of dolphins, whales, porpoises and other wildlife. The research is undertaken onboard Fastnet Line's Julia (1981/21,699grt) and access to the ferry is provided free-of-charge to the wildlife-based charity.
During the months of July and August the ferry's schedule will allow for further opportunities to conduct daylight sightings of marine-life which is to be posted on MarineLife and Fastnet Line websites.
Adrian Shephard, Chairman of MarineLife Trustees, said: "The route from Swansea to Cork crosses a range of marine habitats and we hope it will generate many sightings of cetaceans and seabirds, including two important species we monitor, the white-beaked dolphin and the balearic shearwater".
In addition monitors recently observed fin whales, the second largest whale on the planet. Such sightings provide vital information and this will contribute to a better understanding of the distribution of cetaceans and other marine life in the Celtic Sea. To read more www.marine-life.org.uk
The first of four summertime surveys is to take place on 10 July. Overall the research by MarineLife is part of a larger project which also involves the use of other ferries operating in the Irish Sea and those serving on UK continental routes.
The 1,500 passenger / 325 car-carrying Julia sails year-round six times a week between September to June and from next month and during August the vessel will provide eight sailings per week. For fares and sailings schedules contact www.fastnetline.com