Displaying items by tag: IWDG
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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]
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.
The traditional first day of spring in Ireland also saw the return of Nimmo, a bottlenose dolphin who’s become a regular visitor to Galway city.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for people in Galway to observe a wild dolphin close to a city centre and often within clear view of the shoreline,” says IWDG sightings officer Pádraig Whooley.
He also calls on local citizen scientists and marine wildlife watchers to submit their own sightings over the coming months.
The hooded seal was spotted by Helen Tilson of Schull Sea Safari on the mudflats at Toormore Bay in West Cork on New Year’s Day, and represents only the fourth or fifth Irish record for the Arctic marine wildlife species.
Video recorded by Tilson of the animal “removed any doubt” it was a a hooded seal “as it shows the nasal sac starting to balloon as she approached it, and it made a growling roar, the likes of which I’ve never heard from one of our grey seal bulls”, according to IWDG sightings officer Pádraig Whooley.
It’s believed this particular seal is a sub-adult male “in rather thin condition”, which is to be expected as it is so far south of its usual range.
Meanwhile, reports of four stranded Cuvier’s beaked whale carcasses within 12 days and 70km of each other in December have prompted fears of a new mass stranding event for the deep water species.
The IWDG’s Mick O’Connell said all four were recorded along the Cork coast, beginning in Tragumna (16 December) and followed by Castlepoint in Roaringwater Bay (17 Dec), Lislevane in Clonakilty (21 Dec) and offshore at Galley Head (27 Dec).
“For the third time in five years we are looking at an unusual mass stranding of Cuvier’s beaked whales on the Irish coast, likely caused by a single event at sea,” he said.
But the situation as yet defies explanation. “Without specialised post-mortem of very freshly dead animals … we can’t even establish cause of death,” O’Donnell added.
A bottlenose dolphin was recently rescued by quick-thinking locals after live stranding on Mutton Island near Galway city.
The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) reports the story related to it by friend of the group Jason, who was alerted to the marine mammal in the shallow water near the Galway Bay lighthouse by an Australian couple with whom he had previously been discussing the area’s resident bottlenose Nimmo.
“I just knew it was in trouble so I ran down and the dolphin was out of the water alive,” he said.
With the tide going out, time was of the essence as Jason was joined by three others who offered their scarves to form a brace to lift the dolphin into deeper water.
“I just went the rest of the way as it was getting dark at that point. With one final push it just started to swim away.
“I can’t explain how I felt and we did it as a team. An incredible thank you so so much to those who helped,” he added.
The IWDG said “fresh attention” has been drawn to the issue following the death of a fin whale seen swimming in Dublin Port earlier this month.
More recently, an endangered sei whale was found floating in the River Thames at Gravesend in the UK last Friday (18 October), nearly two weeks after a humpback whale died in the same stretch of water.
IWDG chief executive Dr Simon Berrow said: “Strandings, both live and dead, of large whales are not common in Ireland but do occur and we need a protocol, signed off by relevant partners, including Government agencies, so we can respond quickly and efficiently in such cases without having to phone around looking for resources and support.”
Concerns remain for the health of a rare beaked whale refloated from a Co Waterford beach at the weekend, as The Irish Times reports.
The Sowerby’s beaked whale stranded near Helvick Head on Friday (30 August) and was twice returned to the open sea by the local RNLI lifeboat crew.
The incident marks the fourth stranding this year around the coast — and the only live stranding — of a deep water marine wildlife species that’s historically been rare in Irish inshore waters, with only 25 confirmed since records began.
“Sowerbys usually live in much deeper water 300kms off the west coast — that makes me think it’s unlikely it will survive — it may be sick, but it’s got as good a chance to survive as it could because everything was done locally to get it back out to sea,” he said.
The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.
Funded by the Island Foundation, this two-week mission comes just months after the IWDG finally confirmed the breeding grounds for Ireland’s regular humpback whale visitors near the west African island chain.
Cape Verde also appears to be a chosen spot for these marine wildlife giants from both ends of the earth, as a previous mission in September 2014 recorded humpbacks that usually feed in the southern hemisphere.
Next month’s mission, while building on this research, will also involve training local marine biologists in cetacean survey and research techniques “to empower them to take ownership of whale and dolphin conservation”.
Spanish research group Edmaktub will be providing its 47ft Lipari catamaran as a research platform for their work, updates from which will be posted to a dedicated Facebook page.