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Displaying items by tag: pilot whale

#MarineWildlife - A pilot whale calf had to be put down after stranding off the North Antrim coast - just days after a rare whale died while beached in the same region.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that the unweaned juvenile pilot whale became separated from its mother, and was severely malnourished.

"Regrettably for this animal, given that it would be fully dependent on its mother at such an early stage in its life, the inevitable conclusion was that the animal would be unable to survive alone," said a spokesperson for the NI Department of Environment, who had been monitoring the calf in inshore waters near Portballintrae for close to two weeks.

When the whale calf was reported stranded on rocks in Portballntrae Bay on Monday 16 September, the stand-by vet was called in to euthanise the marine giant.

The sad occasion happened just two days after a juvenile Sei whale died after beaching near Waterfoot in Co Antrim.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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#MarineWildlife - Skerries RNLI joined a number of groups in assisting a beached whale back out to sea at Gormanston in Co Meath earlier today (Thursday 20 June).

The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their inshore lifeboat shortly after 10am following reports from the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) that a 25ft pilot whale had beached in the area.

The lifeboat helmed by Joe May, and with crew members Emma Wilson, AJ Hughes and Laura Boylan onboard, made its way to the scene where May got into the sea and helped manoeuvre the whale back into deeper water.



Skerries RNLI then shadowed the whale guiding it out to sea, preventing it from turning back to shore by positioning the boat in its way. The lifeboat did this for about 25 minutes until the mammal was well clear of the shore.

Other agencies on scene included Skerries coastguard, the Defence Forces based at Gormanston, the IWDG, Boyne Fishermen’s Rescue and Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 116.

Meanwhile, RTÉ News reports that a second whale was found dead on the beach near Mornington, north of Bettystown.

Despite initial fears that the whale was the same one rescued in the morning, it was later determined to be a different creature.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MARINE WILDLIFE - Marine wildlife experts are investigaing the causes of a mass stranding of pilot whales at Fife in eastern Scotland at the weekend.

The Press Association reports that 16 whales from a 26-strong group died when they stranded on a beach near St Andrews on the morning of Sunday 2 September. Three of those that died were calves.

More than 50 volunteers assisted members of the RNLI and vets from British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) in refloating the other 10 whales at high tide yesterday afternoon, in what BDMLR co-ordinator Ali Jack described as "a fantastic effort".

Rescuers used specialist pontoons brought in from across Scotland as well as Newcastle and Cumbria in northern England.

According to The Guardian, some 24 whales from the same pod were spotted in the shallows further along the coast at Cellardyke and are under close observation.

A Forth coastguard spokesman said that vets would return to the beach this morning to carry out post-mortems on the whale carcasses to find any indication of what might have caused them to come so close to the shore.

The spokesman told The Guardian: "It is a very rare occurrence in Scotland and very sad. The usual scenario would be that the whale that is leading the group has become ill, or has lost its way, and gets beached and the rest will follow on, although we do not know for sure if that is what happened."

The incident brings back memories of last year's mass stranding of 44 pilot whales in the Scottish Highlands, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Twenty-five whales from that pod died at the Kyle of Durness, in a tragedy that mirrored the deaths of 33 whales in a similar mass beaching in Donegal in late 2010.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MARINE WILDLIFE - The mystery creature washed up on a Co Clare beach last month has been confirmed to be a long-finned pilot whale, and not a narwhal as had been alleged.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the situation was a source of puzzlement for the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) as the carcass was removed from Liscannor beach before their scientists could examine the remains.

Experts had been hoping to verify an eyewitness report that the carcass was indeed that of a narwhal, an Arctic cetacean renowned for its unicorn-like tusk. It would have been the first recorded sighting of a narwhal in Irish waters.

But RTÉ News reports that images sent to the IWDG confirm at last the identity of the animal as a long-finned pilot whale.

It marks the fourth reported stranding of a pilot whale in Co Clare and the 16th around Ireland this year alone.

The IWDG added that it was "always sceptical that the whale was a narwhal", and said Clare County Council did not deserve the criticism it received for removing the carcass over public health concerns.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MARINE WILDLIFE - Three whales and a dolphin were found beached over the past few days along Ireland's west coast, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

Dr Simon Berrow of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group confirmed that reports had been received of a bottlenose whale on White Strand in Co Clare, a pilot whale on Fintra Beach in Co Donegal and a dolphin in Silverstrand, Co Galway - all found dead.

The latest find was a male sperm whale stranded on Omey Island in Co Galway, shed of its skin and with a broken lower jaw.

"Chances are it died offshore and got washed in with the wind," said Berrow.

The IWDG said such strandings were relatively common, although as reported on Afloat.ie earlier this year there has been growing concern over the rising number of dolphin deaths along the south coast in particular.

Published in Marine Wildlife

Sonar activity by Royal Navy submarines may have caused the deaths of up to 35 pilot whales off the coast of Co Donegal at the weekend, an expert has claimed.

Dr Simon Berrow of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) said that naval activity in the area is one possible cause of the tragedy.

"Naval exercises use a low frequency active sonar which is known to affect whales very badly," he told the Belfast Telegraph. "Basically it affects their sonar and causes a gas embolism, like the ‘bends’."

The Telegraph reports that tests are still being carried out to determine if the whales that beached on Rutland Island, near the fishing village of Burtonport, are the same as a group monitored in Scotland's outer Hebrides the previous weekend.

The pilot whales had reportedly been swimming off Co Donegal for the past week before they were found dead.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story (with photos) HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

Plans to carry out a post-mortem examinations on thirty-five Pilot whales found dead on a beach in Co Donegal yesterday have been cancelled due to bad weather according to Dr. Simon Berrow of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG).

Up to thirty-five  Pilot whales were found dead on a beach in Co Donegal. The whales were discovered on Rutland Island near Burton port yesterday afternoon on a beach and have been confirmed as pilot whales, mostly mothers and calves.

A team from the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology led by Dr Ian O'Connor and the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group are planning to travel to record length, gender and obtain photographs to see if they can be matched to the recently observed Scottish animals. Skin samples and teeth will also be collected for genetics and life-history studies.

According to locals the whales had been seen feeding in the area around Aranmore Island since Tuesday. 

A group of around 30 pilot whales were monitored in South Uist in the outer Hebrides, Scotland last weekend for fear of their live-stranding. The IWDG believe it may be the same group.

Pilot whales have a tendency to strand themselves in large numbers and a similar incident occurred in Co Mayo a few years ago. In June Cape Verde islanders abandoned hope for the survival of 92 pilot whales that were found washed up in a mass beaching. In September in New Zealand at least 25 pilot whales died after beaching themselves in a north Wellington bay as rescuers battled to save almost 50 more stranded.

RTE News has pictures HERE

 

Published in Marine Wildlife

The Irish Coast Guard

The Irish Coast Guard is Ireland's fourth '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.

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

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

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.

Irish Coastguard FAQs

The Irish Coast Guard provides nationwide maritime emergency response, while also promoting safety and security standards. It aims to prevent the loss of life at sea, on inland waters, on mountains and in caves; and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The main role of the Irish Coast Guard is 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. It has three marine rescue centres in Dublin, Malin Head, Co Donegal, and Valentia Island, Co Kerry. The Dublin National Maritime Operations centre provides marine search and rescue responses and coordinates the response to marine casualty incidents with the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Yes, effectively, it is the fourth "blue light" service. The Marine Rescue Sub-Centre (MRSC) Valentia is the contact point for the coastal area between Ballycotton, Co Cork and Clifden, Co Galway. At the same time, the MRSC Malin Head covers the area between Clifden and Lough Foyle. Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) Dublin covers Carlingford Lough, Co Louth to Ballycotton, Co Cork. Each MRCC/MRSC also broadcasts maritime safety information on VHF and MF radio, including navigational and gale warnings, shipping forecasts, local inshore forecasts, strong wind warnings and small craft warnings.

The Irish Coast Guard handles about 3,000 marine emergencies annually, and assists 4,500 people - saving an estimated 200 lives, according to the Department of Transport. In 2016, Irish Coast Guard helicopters completed 1,000 missions in a single year for the first time.

Yes, Irish Coast Guard helicopters evacuate medical patients from offshore islands to hospital on average about 100 times a year. In September 2017, the Department of Health announced that search and rescue pilots who work 24-hour duties would not be expected to perform any inter-hospital patient transfers. The Air Corps flies the Emergency Aeromedical Service, established in 2012 and using an AW139 twin-engine helicopter. Known by its call sign "Air Corps 112", it airlifted its 3,000th patient in autumn 2020.

The Irish Coast Guard works closely with the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which is responsible for the Northern Irish coast.

The Irish Coast Guard is a State-funded service, with both paid management personnel and volunteers, and is under the auspices of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. It is allocated approximately 74 million euro annually in funding, some 85 per cent of which pays for a helicopter contract that costs 60 million euro annually. The overall funding figure is "variable", an Oireachtas committee was told in 2019. Other significant expenditure items include volunteer training exercises, equipment, maintenance, renewal, and information technology.

The Irish Coast Guard has four search and rescue helicopter bases at Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo, run on a contract worth 50 million euro annually with an additional 10 million euro in costs by CHC Ireland. It provides five medium-lift Sikorsky S-92 helicopters and trained crew. The 44 Irish Coast Guard coastal units with 1,000 volunteers are classed as onshore search units, with 23 of the 44 units having rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) and 17 units having cliff rescue capability. The Irish Coast Guard has 60 buildings in total around the coast, and units have search vehicles fitted with blue lights, all-terrain vehicles or quads, first aid equipment, generators and area lighting, search equipment, marine radios, pyrotechnics and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Community Rescue Boats Ireland also provide lifeboats and crews to assist in search and rescue. The Irish Coast Guard works closely with the Garda Siochána, National Ambulance Service, Naval Service and Air Corps, Civil Defence, while fishing vessels, ships and other craft at sea offer assistance in search operations.

The helicopters are designated as airborne from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours, and 45 minutes at night. The aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, on inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains and cover the 32 counties. They can also assist in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and can transport offshore firefighters and ambulance teams. The Irish Coast Guard volunteers units are expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time of departing from the station house in ten minutes from notification during daylight and 20 minutes at night. They are also expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time to the scene of the incident in less than 60 minutes from notification by day and 75 minutes at night, subject to geographical limitations.

Units are managed by an officer-in-charge (three stripes on the uniform) and a deputy officer in charge (two stripes). Each team is trained in search skills, first aid, setting up helicopter landing sites and a range of maritime skills, while certain units are also trained in cliff rescue.

Volunteers receive an allowance for time spent on exercises and call-outs. What is the difference between the Irish Coast Guard and the RNLI? The RNLI is a registered charity which has been saving lives at sea since 1824, and runs a 24/7 volunteer lifeboat service around the British and Irish coasts. It is a declared asset of the British Maritime and Coast Guard Agency and the Irish Coast Guard. Community Rescue Boats Ireland is a community rescue network of volunteers under the auspices of Water Safety Ireland.

No, it does not charge for rescue and nor do the RNLI or Community Rescue Boats Ireland.

The marine rescue centres maintain 19 VHF voice and DSC radio sites around the Irish coastline and a digital paging system. There are two VHF repeater test sites, four MF radio sites and two NAVTEX transmitter sites. Does Ireland have a national search and rescue plan? The first national search and rescue plan was published in July, 2019. It establishes the national framework for the overall development, deployment and improvement of search and rescue services within the Irish Search and Rescue Region and to meet domestic and international commitments. The purpose of the national search and rescue plan is to promote a planned and nationally coordinated search and rescue response to persons in distress at sea, in the air or on land.

Yes, the Irish Coast Guard is responsible for responding to spills of oil and other hazardous substances with the Irish pollution responsibility zone, along with providing an effective response to marine casualties and monitoring or intervening in marine salvage operations. It provides and maintains a 24-hour marine pollution notification at the three marine rescue centres. It coordinates exercises and tests of national and local pollution response plans.

The first Irish Coast Guard volunteer to die on duty was Caitriona Lucas, a highly trained member of the Doolin Coast Guard unit, while assisting in a search for a missing man by the Kilkee unit in September 2016. Six months later, four Irish Coast Guard helicopter crew – Dara Fitzpatrick, Mark Duffy, Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith -died when their Sikorsky S-92 struck Blackrock island off the Mayo coast on March 14, 2017. The Dublin-based Rescue 116 crew were providing "top cover" or communications for a medical emergency off the west coast and had been approaching Blacksod to refuel. Up until the five fatalities, the Irish Coast Guard recorded that more than a million "man hours" had been spent on more than 30,000 rescue missions since 1991.

Several investigations were initiated into each incident. The Marine Casualty Investigation Board was critical of the Irish Coast Guard in its final report into the death of Caitriona Lucas, while a separate Health and Safety Authority investigation has been completed, but not published. The Air Accident Investigation Unit final report into the Rescue 116 helicopter crash has not yet been published.

The Irish Coast Guard in its present form dates back to 1991, when the Irish Marine Emergency Service was formed after a campaign initiated by Dr Joan McGinley to improve air/sea rescue services on the west Irish coast. Before Irish independence, the British Admiralty was responsible for a Coast Guard (formerly the Water Guard or Preventative Boat Service) dating back to 1809. The West Coast Search and Rescue Action Committee was initiated with a public meeting in Killybegs, Co Donegal, in 1988 and the group was so effective that a Government report was commissioned, which recommended setting up a new division of the Department of the Marine to run the Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre (MRCC), then based at Shannon, along with the existing coast radio service, and coast and cliff rescue. A medium-range helicopter base was established at Shannon within two years. Initially, the base was served by the Air Corps.

The first director of what was then IMES was Capt Liam Kirwan, who had spent 20 years at sea and latterly worked with the Marine Survey Office. Capt Kirwan transformed a poorly funded voluntary coast and cliff rescue service into a trained network of cliff and sea rescue units – largely voluntary, but with paid management. The MRCC was relocated from Shannon to an IMES headquarters at the then Department of the Marine (now Department of Transport) in Leeson Lane, Dublin. The coast radio stations at Valentia, Co Kerry, and Malin Head, Co Donegal, became marine rescue-sub-centres.

The current director is Chris Reynolds, who has been in place since August 2007 and was formerly with the Naval Service. He has been seconded to the head of mission with the EUCAP Somalia - which has a mandate to enhance Somalia's maritime civilian law enforcement capacity – since January 2019.

  • 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

Sources: Department of Transport © Afloat 2020

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