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Displaying items by tag: IWDG

#MarineWildlife - Another beaked whale stranding has been recorded on the Irish coast just weeks after two of such creatures were found in Donegal.

A ranger with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) made the discovery at Aillebrack in Co Galway on the evening of 27 May.

The 5m carcass of a female - like the female and juvenile found in the northwest - is thought to be either a True's or Sowerby's beaked whale.

Mick O'Connell, strandings officer with the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG), says the latest stranding "raises new questions", with suspicion that its death may be linked to the face of the Donegal pair earlier this month.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, beaked whales are a rare occurrence in Irish waters, with the last record before this month' stranding made in 2009.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - A gray whale has been sighted many thousands of miles from its usual Pacific swimming grounds in the South Atlantic.

As Pádraig Whooley writes on the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) website, the whale was spotted in the last week in Walvis Bay, Namibia - only the second ever confirmed sighting of the marine species in the Atlantic Ocean, and the first south of the equator, since records began.

Previously a solitary gray whale was tracked in the Mediterranean in May 2010 from the coast of Israel to Barcelona in north-eastern Spain.

That was the first time a gray whale had been seen anywhere east of the Pacific Ocean following the presumed extinction of the Atlantic gray whale in the 17th century.

Whooley calls the latest sighting "a fascinating discovery" and says it "points strongly towards a dramatic shift in distribution facilitated by climate change.

"This is a timely reminder that we should never assume to know what species occur in our local waters, especially when this species seems to have literally come back from the dead."

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Seven dolphins and two beaked whales have stranded on beaches in the northwest in events described as "unusual" by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG).

On the Mullet Peninsula, a group of seven common dolphins - comprising five adults and two juveniles - live stranded at Tarmon Beach on Sunday 12 May.

Though initial attempts to refloat them were successful, one of the juveniles was later found dead and the other was euthanised due to poor health.

Meanwhile in Donegal, the fresh carcass of a female True's or Sowerby's beaked whale was found on Sunday evening on Five Fingers Stand at Inishowen - some days after a reported live stranding of a Sowerby's beaked whale on the Welsh coast.

The Inishowen stranding was followed yesterday 14 May by the discovery of a dead beaked whale calf at Trawbreaga Bay, in what is believed to be a connected stranding.

Samples of the adult female were taken in order to confirm the species, either of which would mark a rare cetacean record for Ireland - the first since 2009.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) is marking 20 years of researching the dolphins of the Shannon Estuary.

As the IWDG's Dr Simon Berrow relates, it was not an auspicious start on 2 May 1993 when the first research trip on the estuary returned after five hours without having seen a single cetacean.

But the following day brought a bounty, with 16 dolphins across three different groups located by the IWDG - the beginning of two decades of sightings and recordings for the Shannon Dolphin Project, which has identified around 230 individual dolphins to date.

Thanks to that project, we know today that at least six of those dolphins first seen in 1993 are still in the estuary as of last year.

The Shannon Dolphin Project now has a website explaining its achievements and the work of the Shannon Dolphin and Wildlife Foundation (SDWF) over the years.

Meanwhile, Afloat reader Karl Grabe has also produced a spectrogram and edit of hydrophone recordings captured by Dr Berrow of Shannon dolphins just a few weeks ago.

Grabe previously uploaded a wonderful snippet of dolphins vocalising in the estuary late last year.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - The trio of bottlenose dolphins who took up residence close to Bunratty Castle recently have apparently moved back out to deeper water after growing concerns for their well-being.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the dolphins had made their home opposite Durty Nellys pub in the Ratty River, which flows into the Shannon Estuary.

Simon Berrow of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) explained that it's not unusual for dolphins to forage for food in waterways that feed into the estuary, though they usually return to the main catchment on their own shortly after.

With fears that their acoustic abilities were impaired, preventing them from navigating downstream past a series of bridges and concrete pillars between them and the main watercourse, a rescue attempt had been planned for late last week.

But as the Clare People reports, this was called off as the dolphins were spotted less and less frequently in the area.

Later hydrophone tracking by the IWDG led experts to discover that the cetaceans were able to come and go as they pleased.

Despite this, dolphins only have a limited ability to survive in fresh water, and can develop serious kidney and skin problems if exposed for a significant length of time.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - An upcoming research cruise by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) is set to follow the path of a famous whaling voyage embarked on by an Irish Times journalist more than 100 years ago.

The paper reports on the pending mission by the marine wildlife charity's Celtic Mist research vessel that will retrace the movements of Crawford Hartnell from the site of what was then a Norwegian whaling station in the Inishkea Islands off the Mullet Peninsula in Mayo to a point 160km west where Hartnell report the harpooning of two whales.

Hartnell's accounts of his whaling adventure are remembered today for their blood-soaked vividness - but the IWDG's advances are altogether more friendly.

Rather than harpoon their quarry, the researchers on board the Celtic Mist will be on the lookout for baleen and beaked whales to count - and will also be teaching IWDG members how to identify species, how to carry out sea-bound surveys and how to use hydrophones to identify cetaceans by the sounds they make beneath the waves.

The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Three bottlenose dolphins have made a new home close to a famous tourist watering hole in Co Clare.

According to the Irish Independent, the trio have taken up residence next to Durty Nellys pub in the Ratty River, which flows past Bunratty Castle into the Shannon Estuary.

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG), which has been tracking the group, believes they originated from a larger group populating the estuary.

As the IWDG's Simon Berrow explains, such dolphins are known to forage for food in rivers that feed into the estuary, and will return to the main catchment on their own.

While the risk of stranding in the shallower waters of rivers is unlikely, there is growing concern that the dolphins have been in the area for longer than expected.

"We can't rule out the possibility that their acoustic abilities may be impaired by the series of bridges and concrete pillars that span one of the bridges, and that they may be finding it difficult to navigate as a result of an 'acoustic trap'," says Berrow.

The IWDG says it is in discussion with the National Parks and Wildlife Service as to what options are available to step in to shepherd the trio back to the Shannon Estuary if necessary.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#SeismicSurvey - The Irish Times reports that the European Commission has demanded an explanation from the State regarding the absence of environmental impact assessments for seismic surveys off the west coast.

The action comes following a complaint lodged in Brussels by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) in the wake of the recommencing of seismic surveys over the Corrib gas field last month.

As Irish waters are a designated whale and dolphin sanctuary, the IWDG's position is that the State must comply with the EU directive to conduct an environmental impact assessment when licensing such ocean-bound surveys.

The group says it received word from the EC that the issue has been raised with the Department of Energy, and reiterated the need for "strict protection" of cetaceans in Irish and all EU waters.

Last December the IWDG expressed concerns over the potential impact of a 2D seismic survey on harbour porpoises in the Kish Bank Basin in Dublin Bay.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Providence Resources subsequently suspended its licence to explore for oil and gas at what was termed the Dalkey Island Prospect.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#MarineWildlife - A juvenile humpback whale sighting off West Cork provided a St Patrick's weekend surprise for cetacean watchers.

Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) sightings co-ordinator Pádraig Whooley writes on the discovery made off the Stags on the afternoon of Monday 18 March, which was verified by IWDG members Simon Duggan, Youen Yacob and Robbie Murphy.

Photo ID images captured at the scene allowed experts to confirm the whale is a newcomer to Irish waters, bringing the known total to 22 and continuing a growing trend.

Whooley also notes the unusual nature of the sighting, coming some months after the busy humpback whale activity in the area previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Those whales weren't seen again after that flurry of breaching and bubble-netting off Baltimore - presumably because being an older group, they were drawn south by their migratory instinct to the tropical feeding grounds.

In contrast, this likely juvenile - named Baltimore - may have opted to winter in higher latitudes to avoid competition with bigger counterparts, something that a group of humpbacks in the Norwegian fjords have also chosen to do this year.

The IWDG has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - If you've ever wanted to get closer to Ireland's marine wildlife, a new series of weekend excursions in West Cork may be just the ticket.

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.

"These new offshore SACs will have the same effect of preventing any fishing, marine energy or aquaculture being carried out in these areas if left in the hands of the same agencies to manage."

Published in Marine Wildlife
Page 10 of 20

Irish Coast Guard

The Irish Coast Guard is Ireland's 4th Blue Light service (along with An Garda Síochána, the Ambulance Service and the Fire Service). It provides a nationwide maritime emergency organisation as well as a variety of services to shipping and other government agencies.

The purpose of the Irish Coast Guard is to promote safety and security standards, and by doing so, prevent as far as possible, the loss of life at sea, and on inland waters, mountains and caves, and to provide effective emergency response services and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The Irish Coast Guard has responsibility for Ireland's system of marine communications, surveillance and emergency management in Ireland's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and certain inland waterways.

It is responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue and counter-pollution and ship casualty operations. It also has responsibility for vessel traffic monitoring.

Operations in respect of maritime security, illegal drug trafficking, illegal migration and fisheries enforcement are co-ordinated by other bodies within the Irish Government.

Introduction

On average, each year, the Irish Coast Guard is expected to:

  • handle 3,000 marine emergencies
  • assist 4,500 people and save about 200 lives
  • task Coast Guard helicopters on missions around 2000 times (40 times to assist mountain rescues and 200 times to carry out aeromedical HEMS missions on behalf of the HSE), Coast Guard volunteer units will respond 1000 times and RNLI and community lifeboats will be tasked by our Coordination Centres about 950 times
  • evacuate medical patients off our Islands to hospital on 100 occasions
  • assist other nations' Coast Guards about 200 times
  • make around 6,000 maritime safety broadcasts to shipping, fishing and leisure craft users
  • carry out a safety on the water campaign that targets primary schools and leisure craft users, including at sea and beach patrols
  • investigate approximately 50 maritime pollution reports

The Coast Guard has been around in some form in Ireland since 1908.

List of Coast Guard Units in Ireland

  • Achill, Co. Mayo
  • Ardmore, Co. Waterford
  • Arklow, Co. Wicklow
  • Ballybunion, Co. Kerry
  • Ballycotton, Co. Cork
  • Ballyglass, Co. Mayo
  • Bonmahon, Co. Waterford
  • Bunbeg, Co. Donegal
  • Carnsore, Co. Wexford
  • Castlefreake, Co. Cork
  • Castletownbere, Co. Cork
  • Cleggan, Co. Galway
  • Clogherhead, Co. Louth
  • Costelloe Bay, Co. Galway
  • Courtown, Co. Wexford
  • Crosshaven, Co. Cork
  • Curracloe, Co. Wexford
  • Dingle, Co. Kerry
  • Doolin, Co. Clare
  • Drogheda, Co. Louth
  • Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin
  • Dunmore East, Co. Waterford
  • Fethard, Co. Wexford
  • Glandore, Co. Cork
  • Glenderry, Co. Kerry
  • Goleen, Co. Cork
  • Greencastle, Co. Donegal
  • Greenore, Co. Louth
  • Greystones, Co. Wicklow
  • Guileen, Co. Cork
  • Howth, Co. Dublin
  • Kilkee, Co. Clare
  • Killala, Co. Mayo
  • Killybegs, Co. Donegal
  • Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford
  • Knightstown, Co. Kerry
  • Mulroy, Co. Donegal
  • North Aran, Co. Galway
  • Old Head Of Kinsale, Co. Cork
  • Oysterhaven, Co. Cork
  • Rosslare, Co. Wexford
  • Seven Heads, Co. Cork
  • Skerries, Co. Dublin
  • Summercove, Co. Cork
  • Toe Head, Co. Cork
  • Tory Island, Co. Donegal
  • Tramore, Co. Waterford
  • Waterville, Co. Kerry
  • Westport, Co. Mayo
  • Wicklow
  • Youghal, Co. Cork

The roles of the Irish Coast Guard

The main roles of the Irish Coast Guard are to rescue people from danger at sea or on land, to organise immediate medical transport and to assist boats and ships within the country's jurisdiction.

Each year the Irish Coast Guard co-ordinates the response to thousands of incidents at sea and on the cliffs and beaches of Ireland. It does this through its Marine Rescue Centres which are currently based in:

  • Dublin
  • Malin Head (Co Donegal)
  • Valentia Island (Co Kerry).

Each centre is responsible for search and rescue operations.

The Dublin National Maritime Operations Centre (NMOC) provides marine search and rescue response services and co-ordinates the response to marine casualty incidents within the Irish Pollution Responsibility Zone/EEZ.

The Marine Rescue Sub Centre (MRSC) Valentia and MRSC Malin Head are 24/7 centres co-ordinating search and rescue response in their areas of responsibility.

The Marine Rescue Sub Centre (MRSC) Valentia is the contact point for routine operational matters in the area between Ballycotton and Clifden.

MRSC Malin Head is the contact point for routine operational matters in the area between Clifden and Lough Foyle.

MRCC Dublin is the contact point for routine operational matters in the area between Carlingford Lough and Ballycotton.

Each MRCC/MRSC broadcasts maritime safety information on VHF and, in some cases, MF radio in accordance with published schedules.

Maritime safety information that is broadcast by the three Marine Rescue Sub-centres includes:

  • navigational warnings as issued by the UK Hydrographic Office
  • gale warnings, shipping forecasts, local inshore forecasts, strong wind warnings and small craft warnings as issued by the Irish Meteorological Office.

Coast Guard helicopters

The Irish Coast Guard has contracted five medium-lift Sikorsky Search and Rescue helicopters deployed at bases in Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo.

The helicopters are designated wheels up from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours and 45 minutes at night. One aircraft is fitted and its crew trained for under slung cargo operations up to 3000kgs and is available on short notice based at Waterford.

These aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains of Ireland (32 counties).

They can also be used for assistance in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and aerial surveillance during daylight hours, lifting and passenger operations and other operations as authorised by the Coast Guard within appropriate regulations.

The Coast Guard can contract specialised aerial surveillance or dispersant spraying aircraft at short notice internationally.

Helicopter tasks include:

  • the location of marine and aviation incident survivors by homing onto aviation and marine radio distress transmissions, by guidance from other agencies, and by visual, electronic and electro-optical search
  • the evacuation of survivors from the sea, and medical evacuees from all manner of vessels including high-sided passenger and cargo vessels and from the islands
  • the evacuation of personnel from ships facing potential disaster
  • search and or rescue in mountainous areas, caves, rivers, lakes and waterways
  • the transport of offshore fire-fighters (MFRTs) or ambulance teams (MARTs) and their equipment following a request for assistance
  • the provision of safety cover for other search and rescue units including other Marine Emergency Service helicopters
  • pollution, casualty and salvage inspections and surveillance and the transport of associated personnel and equipment
  • inter-agency training in all relevant aspects of the primary role
  • onshore emergency medical service, including evacuation and air ambulance tasks
  • relief of the islands and of areas suffering from flooding or deep snow

The secondary roles of the helicopter are:

  • the exercise of the primary search, rescue and evacuation roles in adjacent search and rescue regions
  • assistance to onshore emergency services, such as in the evacuation of high-rise buildings
  • public safety awareness displays and demonstrations
  • providing helicopter expertise for seminars and training courses

The Irish Coast Guard provides aeronautical assets for search and rescue in the mountains of Ireland. Requests for Irish Coast Guard assets are made to the Marine Rescue Centres.

Requests are accepted from An Garda Síochána and nominated persons in Mountain Rescue Teams.

Information courtesy of Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (July 2019)

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