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Displaying items by tag: Shark

Inland Fisheries Ireland has expressed concern over a shark carcass that was found in the River Erne in Co Cavan earlier this month, as BBC News reports.

The remains of what’s thought to be a small spurdog shark were found at Belturbet on Friday 17 September.

The State agency with responsibility for the protection and conservation of Ireland’s inland fisheries and sea angling resources believes the shark was caught at sea and later dumped in the river.

“The incident is a cause for concern for Inland Fisheries Ireland as the body advocates a ‘catch and release’ approach with shark species,” it said.

Published in Marine Wildlife

A flotilla is steaming up the river Liffey today in the next stage of a marine wildlife campaign to secure legal protection for basking sharks in these waters.

Over 7,000 people have already voiced support for the Save Our Sharks campaign, which aims to deliver a letter personally to Minister of State Malcolm Noonan.

The letter highlights the need for legal protection of the world’s second-largest shark and fish – known as Liabhán chor gréine, or the “great fish of the sun” – within Irish territorial waters.

In May of this year, Social Democrat TD and former marine biologist Jennifer Whitmore proposed amending the Wildlife Act (1976) to include the basking shark.

This would provide legal protection to the shark in Irish territorial waters.

Scientists signed an open letter to Government last month, explaining that Irish coastal waters are “one of the few places globally” where basking sharks “regularly and predictably occur on the surface close to shore”.

“This surface swimming behaviour is the root of its deep cultural connections with western Irish coastal and island communities,” the scientists said.

The number of breeding individuals has been estimated at approximately 8,000-10,000 worldwide, the majority of which are in the northeast Atlantic.

The scientists believe section 23 of the Wildlife Act should be amended to protect the endangered species.

Celebrating Irish sharks of all shapes and sizes for Shark Awareness Day

Today, 14th July, the Marine Institute is recognising sharks of all shapes and sizes for Shark Awareness Day. Irish waters are home to 71 species of shark, skates and rays, 58 of which have been studied in detail and listed on the Ireland Red List of Cartilaginous fish. Irish sharks range from small Sleeper sharks, Dogfish and Catsharks, to larger species like Frilled, Mackerel and Cow sharks, all the way to the second largest shark in the world, the Basking shark.

Published in Marine Wildlife

Marine biologists have long wondered why some species like the white shark and bluefin tuna are warm-blooded when most fish are not.

Now newly published research led by a Trinity College Dublin (TCD) scientist has concluded that the ability to regulate body temperatures in this way gives these fish a competitive advantage as “elite” predators.

However, the study led by PhD candidate Lucy Harding in TCD’s school of natural sciences also confirms that this advantage doesn’t allow them to live in broader temperature ranges – meaning they are just as vulnerable to climate change.

The research, which is published today (Thurs July 1st) in the journal Functional Ecology (italics), found that white shark, bluefin tuna and other warm-water species can swim approximately 1.6 (one point six) times faster than their cold-blooded counterparts.

Only 35 species of fish are warm-blooded, but this is limited to parts of their bodies, Harding explained.

“Some can warm their brain, or their eyes or muscles or a combination of same – and the reasons for this will involve more research,” she said.

Up till now, it had remained unclear what advantages being warm-blooded provided to the particular fish, she said.

“Some scientists believed being warm-blooded allowed them to swim faster, as warmer muscles tend to be more powerful, while others believed it allowed them to live in a broader range of temperatures and therefore be more resilient to the effects of ocean warming as a result of climate change,” Harding added.

Tiger shark: A tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) swimming at the surface with a biologging package attached to dorsal fin. This package records temperature, swimming speed, depth, body movement and video footage. Photo: Diego Camejo (Beneath the Waves).Tiger shark: A tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) swimming at the surface with a biologging package attached to dorsal fin. This package records temperature, swimming speed, depth, body movement and video footage. Photo: Diego Camejo (Beneath the Waves).

The research team assessed these two possibilities by collecting data from wild sharks and bony fish, as well as using existing databases

Biologging devices attached to the fins of animals used in the research collected information such as water temperatures encountered by the fish in their habitats.

The data also recorded the speeds at which the fish swam for most of the day, and the depths of water most frequented.

“We noticed that these warm-blooded animals have the same characteristics – in that they tend to be shaped like a bullet, and have particular fin shapes and tail beats,” Harding said.

TCD assistant professor of zoology Nick Payne noted the faster swimming speeds of the warm-blooded fishes “likely gives them competitive advantages when it comes to things like predation and migration”.

“Additionally, and contrary to some previous studies and opinions, our work shows these animals do not live in broader temperature ranges, which implies that they may be equally at risk from the negative impacts of ocean warming,” he said.

“ Findings like these – while interesting on their own – are very important as they can aid future conservation efforts for these threatened animals,” Payne added.

The research was supported by Science Foundation Ireland.

Published in Sharks
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Marine scientists have found that a critically endangered shark in southern African has been identified in waters over 2,000 km away from its usual habitat.

The scientists led by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) say that information and images dating back two years show that the endangered shorttail nurse shark (Pseudoginglymostoma brevicaudatum) is alive in waters off Mozambique

This represents a range extension of more than 2,000 kilometres (1,242 miles), from the coast of Tanzania, and 1,100 kilometres (683 miles) westward from Madagascar across the Mozambique Channel.

A paper published in the journal Marine Biodiversity says the discovery is based on underwater video surveys collected in 2019, recent photos of shore-based sport anglers’ catches, and the identification of a specimen collected in 1967.

The shorttail nurse shark - so name due to its small size – grows to approximately 75 centimetres (30 inches) and is found in coral reefs.

Coastal fisheries and habitat degradation are said to have influenced its decline in numbers, estimated at more than 80 per cent over the last 30 years.

The scientists state that one of the records of the shark - from Mozambique’s Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve - suggests that the species benefits from some degree of protection within a large coastal marine protected area (MPA).

However, the species range within Mozambique may span a large proportion of the country’s unprotected coral reef habitat, they note, with no specific regulations on its catch – apart from a listing on the Kenya threatened and protected species records.

The researchers recommend that the species should be considered for legal protection in Mozambique and throughout its limited range, and improved management measures should be initiated to reduce targeted and incidental catch.

WCS works on shark conservation around the world, and highlights how much of the global trade in both shark fins, and other products such as meat, is unregulated and is threatening many species with extinction.

This research was conducted in partnership with the Mozambique Instituto Nacional de Investigação Pesqueira, and the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity.

Published in Sharks
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Irish shark experts have called on newly elected MEPs to outlaw the growing shark fin fishery in European waters, following a fine imposed on a Spanish fishing vessel detained off the Irish coast.

The Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) has confirmed that the fine of €2,500 and forfeiture of catch and gear worth €165,000 was imposed on the Spanish vessel Virxen da Blanca, following a guilty plea in Cork circuit court on May 23rd last.

The vessel had pleaded guilty to catches of Blue Shark with a small quantity of Mako Shark on board after it was detained by the Naval Service about 150 nautical miles south of Ireland last August.

A special sitting of Clonakilty district court last year also heard the vessel had 1,250kg of shark fins on board. The vessel was supposedly fishing for tuna.

Shark fins can fetch a high price in Asia, where they are used in shark fin soup. The fins are often removed while the shark is still alive and it can then no longer swim effectively and either suffocates or is eaten by other predators.

Sharks, rays and skates are the most threatened seafish in Europe, and several species of shark caught in Irish waters are on the “red list” of endangered species issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Dr Kevin Flannery, chair of the Irish Elasmobranch Group which is focused on protecting sharks, ray and skates, said that a loophole in the licensing of the tuna longline fishery was allowing a bycatch of shark off this coast.

The fine imposed on the Virxen da Blanca (italics) represented “just 50 cents” for each dead shark, given that the vessel had an estimated 5,000 on board, he said.

“We congratulate the Naval Service and SFPA and welcome the guilty plea, but we are calling on newly elected MEPs to close off this legal loophole and stop this barbaric practice,” he said.

“We know of nine non-Irish vessels working off this coast, targeting blue shark in particular, and using a loophole in the tuna longline fishery,” he said.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Michael Creed recently said he was in favour of a “considerably lower” permitted by-catch of certain shark species.

He was responding to a case made by the IEG for action on critically endangered species, such as angel shark.

SFPA chairwoman Dr Susan Steele said the SFPA was committed to preventing illegal shark fishing and said it had “zero tolerance “ for vessels “removing fins from sharks in our waters”.

“Luckily this infringement was detected, and we will continue to work with authorities across Europe to deter and detect any future illegal shark fishing violations,” Dr Steele said.

She paid tribute to the inter-agency cooperation between the Naval Service, Garda and SFPA which led to the Spanish vessel’s detention last year.

Asked to comment on reported new measures being introduced in relation to the protection of angel shark in Irish waters, the SFPA said that for security and operational reasons it could not go into details.

Published in Sharks
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It’s the Year of the Shark at Ireland’s Sea Life Centre where two Short Tail Nurse Sharks have bred for the first time. The eggs from the rare sharks, now facing a dramatic decline in the wild, can now be seen growing in their tank and the pups are expected to hatch towards the end of the year.

The female shark was born in Sea Life in 2006 from a wild caught egg and is one of the first of the species to breed in captivity. The male shark was also born in 2006, in Artis Zoo in Amsterdam and came to Sea Life on loan in 2013 as part of a European breeding programme. But they didn’t breed immediately, it took them four years to get together! This shark is only found in three locations in the wild, off the coasts of Tanzania and Kenya in East Africa and in the waters surrounding Madagascar.

Shark embryo 1A shark embryo develops in one of the rare eggs from the Short Tail Nurse Shark at the National Sea Life Centre Bray
The Short Tail Nurse Shark has been placed on the ‘vulnerable’ list by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Its decline has resulted from commercial overfishing for food and particularly for its fins, which are regarded as a delicacy in Asia and which sell for around £140 a kilo. The fish is also caught as a bycatch in the heavily fished inshore waters of East Africa. It also suffers from the destruction of its natural habitat, the coral reefs.

It is a fascinating animal to watch. An inshore bottom dwelling species, it has a unique feeding apparatus with a small mouth but an enlarged pharynx that allows it to create a vacuum and suck up its prey. It is a nocturnal feeder, preying on sea urchins, squid and octopus. It has a habit of regularly floating upside down and can live for up to 33 years in captivity, becoming mature when it is 56 cm long.

Pat O’Suilleabhain, Director of Sea Life Bray, says it is a great achievement to have these rare sharks breed successfully in Ireland and that Bray can be proud to be part of a European wide breeding programme. ‘We became a part of this very interesting programme when Artis Zoo in the Netherlands agreed to loan us the male shark. There is little known about their breeding habits so there is great excitement throughout Europe as we wait for the pups to hatch.’

The eggs and the parents are currently on display at Sea Life in Bray.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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Sailing instructor Kerri-Ann Boylan was out coaching kids in Optimist sailing dinghies at the weekend when she spotted a fin in the water in Skerries Harbour in North County Dublin.

'As I brought the kids into land and about to let them jump out of my boat we spotted a fin', she wrote on social media on October 10th. 

'It's a very rare sight of a 'shark' being in that close to land and in the Irish Sea,' she added.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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RTE news reports that a kayak angler has captured on camera his "epic tussle" to catch a shark off Malin Head in Co Donegal. Sea angler Graham Smith battled for more than three hours on Saturday to land the 136kg porbeagle shark. Porbeagles carry little threat to humans and typically reach 2.5m.
After landing the huge fish, Mr Smith released it.

The experienced angler says it was "above and beyond" anything else he has experienced.

Published in Angling
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There is always something unusual in the sea, a phrase I have heard very often from marine scientists and which I have been known to utter myself. It comes to my mind time and again when I am preparing this fortnightly radio programme.

From somewhere in my educational background, most likely with the Presentation Brothers in Cork aeons ago, I became conditioned to believe in a world that was, seemingly, manufactured within a defined religious-approved period, but I did not conceive then as a youngster that this could have happened many, many millions of years back, before the period recognised by the Brothers who taught me a lot that I value today, but were less informative about the millions of years BC.

So, when I come across information about a new discovery in the ocean, dating back many millions of years ago, the dating of them still comes as a surprise to me. Perhaps that is reflective of my age, or rather maturity, which I prefer to regard it as – maturing … like a good wine!

Anyway, that phrase came back to me when collating the News review for the current edition of THIS ISLAND NATION and two stories which came from North America about discoveries going back those ‘millions of years ago’. They reported that sharks existed on Earth 300 million years ago and that was before the age of the Dinosaurs. The discoveries have been made by marine scientists in Texas and New Mexico. The fossil of a shark more than 8 metres long - that’s about 26 feet - and a quarter longer than the modern great white shark  – has been found in Jacksboro, Texas, on what was the seabed of the Western Interior Seaway which covered Texas in water 300 million years ago. In addition to that, a nearly-complete fossilised shark that also dates to about 300 million years ago has been found during an archaeological dig in a quarry in New Mexico. A female specimen, this measures 6 feet, that’s around 2 metres, long.

It all shows that we still know less about the seas than we do about the Universe – and that’s something else which scientists say quite often!

Published in Island Nation
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#shark – Locals in Rush, County Dublin have rescued up to 30 Tope shark that were stranded in shallow water after the tide had gone out. The shark were transferred back to deeper water in the back of a jeep as this youtube video describes.

Published in Marine Warning
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Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) in Ireland Information

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is a charity to save lives at sea in the waters of UK and Ireland. Funded principally by legacies and donations, the RNLI operates a fleet of lifeboats, crewed by volunteers, based at a range of coastal and inland waters stations. Working closely with UK and Ireland Coastguards, RNLI crews are available to launch at short notice to assist people and vessels in difficulties.

RNLI was founded in 1824 and is based in Poole, Dorset. The organisation raised €210m in funds in 2019, spending €200m on lifesaving activities and water safety education. RNLI also provides a beach lifeguard service in the UK and has recently developed an International drowning prevention strategy, partnering with other organisations and governments to make drowning prevention a global priority.

Irish Lifeboat Stations

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland, with an operational base in Swords, Co Dublin. Irish RNLI crews are tasked through a paging system instigated by the Irish Coast Guard which can task a range of rescue resources depending on the nature of the emergency.

Famous Irish Lifeboat Rescues

Irish Lifeboats have participated in many rescues, perhaps the most famous of which was the rescue of the crew of the Daunt Rock lightship off Cork Harbour by the Ballycotton lifeboat in 1936. Spending almost 50 hours at sea, the lifeboat stood by the drifting lightship until the proximity to the Daunt Rock forced the coxswain to get alongside and successfully rescue the lightship's crew.

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895.

FAQs

While the number of callouts to lifeboat stations varies from year to year, Howth Lifeboat station has aggregated more 'shouts' in recent years than other stations, averaging just over 60 a year.

Stations with an offshore lifeboat have a full-time mechanic, while some have a full-time coxswain. However, most lifeboat crews are volunteers.

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895

In 2019, 8,941 lifeboat launches saved 342 lives across the RNLI fleet.

The Irish fleet is a mixture of inshore and all-weather (offshore) craft. The offshore lifeboats, which range from 17m to 12m in length are either moored afloat, launched down a slipway or are towed into the sea on a trailer and launched. The inshore boats are either rigid or non-rigid inflatables.

The Irish Coast Guard in the Republic of Ireland or the UK Coastguard in Northern Ireland task lifeboats when an emergency call is received, through any of the recognised systems. These include 999/112 phone calls, Mayday/PanPan calls on VHF, a signal from an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) or distress signals.

The Irish Coast Guard is the government agency responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue operations. To carry out their task the Coast Guard calls on their own resources – Coast Guard units manned by volunteers and contracted helicopters, as well as "declared resources" - RNLI lifeboats and crews. While lifeboats conduct the operation, the coordination is provided by the Coast Guard.

A lifeboat coxswain (pronounced cox'n) is the skipper or master of the lifeboat.

RNLI Lifeboat crews are required to follow a particular development plan that covers a pre-agreed range of skills necessary to complete particular tasks. These skills and tasks form part of the competence-based training that is delivered both locally and at the RNLI's Lifeboat College in Poole, Dorset

 

While the RNLI is dependent on donations and legacies for funding, they also need volunteer crew and fund-raisers.

© Afloat 2020

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