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Researchers from Trinity’s School of Natural Sciences were in West Cork earlier this month to tag some of the many basking sharks that have been frequenting our shores — and learn more about the second largest fish in the world’s oceans.

Funded by the Irish Research Council and Science Foundation Ireland, Assistant Professor Nicholas Payne and PhD candidate Haley Dolton spent a week on the water with West Cork Charters in which they managed to apply tags to four basking sharks.

These electronic tags will accumulate data about the sharks’ behaviour and physiology as they move around the coast feeding on plankton.

The goal, the researchers say, is to learn more about the anatomy and physiology of these gentle giants and hopefully guide conservation efforts for this endangered marine wildlife species.

“Basking sharks are a difficult species to study because they are not very abundant and they only grace our shores for a brief period each year, from April to August, so I am delighted we were able to learn so much about them this past week,” said Dr Payne.

Sadly the first phase of the pair’s work involved dissecting the remains of two basking sharks that washed up on the West Cork coast at the end of April, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

“We would rather not have have had the opportunity to examine the two sharks that died prematurely before we took to the sea, but these sad events did at least help us learn more about them,” Dr Payne explained.

“Basking sharks are an endangered species and at risk of death from fishing bycatch and from getting struck by boats, so the more we know about them — especially their behaviour and physiology — the better chance we have of protecting them.

“The experience we had of observing live sharks in all their glory really emphasises that we should do our best to protect these incredible animals.”

Dolton added: “The amount of data we managed to collect throughout the whole week was phenomenal and beyond what I’d hoped for. We are currently analysing all the results and look forward to sharing our findings with everyone later in the year.”

Published in Sharks

#MarineScience - Researchers at Trinity College Dublin have identified ‘super healing’ capabilities in limpets, as Trinity News reports.

The small molluscs, which can be found in coastal areas all around the world, were studied for a paper in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

Trinity scientists found that the limpets they studied were able to sense minor damage to their shells from weathering or predator attacks, and repair them much in the way mammals heal broken bones.

Meanwhile, sea sponges recently discovered in Ireland’s deep ocean territory could hold special medicinal properties, according to The Irish Times.

Samples taken during the recent Marine Institute expedition are being tested for their effectiveness in treating cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, epilepsy and other conditions.

The relevant chemicals are produced by the sponges as part of their defences against competing marine organisms, and NUI Galway’s Dr Louise Alcock hopes to see positive results within the next year.

Published in Marine Science

Last weekend saw the Student Yachting Nationals take place at the Royal Cork Yacht Club. The students had the use of the ISA J80 Sailfleet for the event. Six college teams entered for the Nationals which was the Qualifier for the Student Yachting World Cup 2011.

Racing was scheduled for Cuskinny on Friday and conditions were ideal with 17-20 knots of breeze. Race Officer, Nathan Kirwan, got in four good races lasting some 40 to 50 minutes each. However, spinnakers were banned as some wipeouts had been observed by the ISA Bosun who exercised his judgment in this regard. Some two minutes after the start of the first race UCC skippered by Robert O'Leary suffered a snapped halyard but were refused redress. CIT skippered by George Kenefick lost their only winch handle overboard some three minutes before the start in race 1 but still managed to win the race by a comfortable margin. In race 2 UCC came back strongly to take the gun and pushing CIT into second place. At this stage match racing had begun between the two Cork colleges with each throwing dummy tacks to try to clear their air. In Race 3 TCD skippered by Alistair Kissane took the win with CIT in second and UCC third. The final race of the day was won by CIT with UCC third. Overall standings for Day One were: CIT 6pts, with UCC and TCD on 12 pts each. UCD had got off to a shaky start which was to prove costly for them as they were on form on days two and three.

On day two the Race Officer moved the course to the Curlane Bank and spinnakers were permitted. CIT found their rythym taking the bullet in race 5 with UCD in second and a poor mark rounding relegated UCC to third place. Race 6 saw the O'Leary and Kenefick teams doing circles at the pre start as the competition was intensifying and it was looking like a two horse race. UCC took first place with NUIG taking second and CIT third. Donagh Good of CIT went for a quick dip in the cold water but managed to grab on and was pulled back on board by George Kenefick and Kevin Goulding. Later during day 2 the wind was rising to 22 knots so spinnakers were once again banned. UCC found the conditions very much to their liking, taking the win, with TCD in second, UCC third and CIT fourth. Race 8 proved to be rather interesting with CIT managing to relegate UCC to last position and managing to keep UCC in their sight for the duration of the race. Downwind was difficult for CIT with UCC right on their tail but UCC were not successful in finding a passing lane. Again, UCD took their second bullet of the day with CIT and UCC in fifth and sixth positions some four to five minutes behind the rest of the fleet. CIT were able to discard their fifth position but UCC were unlucky in having to count their sixth as they also had a sixth from day one. TCD again got a second position. Results after day two were: CIT 14pts, UCC 19pts, UCD and TCD on 21pts each.

Day 3 was a non discardable coastal race from Crosshaven to Kinsale counting for 1.5pts. The start line was just off Roches Point with five knots of breeze and brilliant sunshine. UCC led the fleet and NUIG and CIT were in last position 300 metres behind the rest of the fleet. As the race went on the wind increased to a nice south westerly breeze of 12 to 14 knots. As this stage it looked as if it might be UCC's lucky day but Team CIT maintained their composure and by tacking close to the shore and keeping out of the tide managed to finish in third position at the Bulman Buoy with UCC first and UCD second. This result was to prove sufficient to give CIT the national student title for 2010.

Overall Results:

CIT 18.5pts
UCC 20.5pts
UCD 24pts
TCD 28.4pts
NUIG 33pts
UL 40pts

Published in Youth Sailing

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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