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Displaying items by tag: Whales

#MarineWildlife - The carcass of an 11-tonne sperm whale has washed up at Carnsore Point in Co Wexford, as the Gorey Guardian reports.

The 8.5m whale — discovered by local man Davie Rea on the rocky shore at the end of last week — was identified as an adult female by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG).

Kevin MacCormick of the IWDG added that the giant marine mammal appeared to be emaciated “so most likely it was not in good health”.

It’s been five years since the last sperm whale stranding on the Wexford coast, as the species is more often found in western waters.

The Gorey Guardian has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Not even two months in and 2017 is already the worst year on record for whale and dolphin strandings, according to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG).

As of Friday 17 February, a whopping 56 cetacean standings had been recorded — more than half of them identified as common dolphins.

Prior to 2010, the average numbers of standings were around 22, of which five would have been common dolphins, says the IWDG’s strandings officer Mick O’Connell.

The question of what is happening to cause such a spike in strandings throughout this decade prompted a meeting between the IWDG, Government agencies and representatives from Irish and European fishing fleets earlier this week.

“There is a disconnect somewhere,” says O’Connell, “as internationally accepted visual evidence of bycatch is seen in some strandings, and post-mortem reports on five common dolphins in Mayo in 2013 reported that their deaths were likely to be due to bycatch in a pelagic trawl net, yet Irish and EU observer schemes involving pelagic trawlers reported no bycatch in commercial pelagic hauls.”

The latest stranding was recorded in Fenit, Co Kerry on Wednesday (15 February) — a dolphin alleged by locals to have been caught in the nets of a large trawler offshore before being dumped overboard, as the Irish Mirror reports.

The Irish Examiner adds that another common dolphin with blood marks was found at Ballyconneely Beach in Connemara on the same day, while two days previous the emaciated carcass of a sperm whale was found on Nethertown Beach at the most south-easterly point of Co Wexford.

Last month, a spate of marine wildlife standings on the Waterford coast was blamed on pair trawling activity in the area.

Published in Marine Wildlife

I have been thinking of whales this week and remembering when I first saw a big one very close-up, so at the start of my podcast you can hear the sound, recorded underwater in the Atlantic Ocean of a humpback whale communicating with other whales.

The stranding of hundreds of whales on the New Zealand coastline was harrowing in the television pictures which showed the helplessness of these magnificent creatures when out of their environment, stranded ashore and the enormous efforts of human beings to refloat them. Some of those efforts were successful, but unfortunately, many whales died…..

The moment when I first saw a whale close-up is one of the memories etched on my mind. I was on the bow of Ireland’s first entry in the Round the World Yacht race in the Atlantic in May of 1990 when it happened. Suddenly, a huge whale was alongside us, so close I felt I could touch it. NCB Ireland was 85 feet long and the whale seemed, to my eyes, to be just as big and very close to the boat. I was awed by this magnificent creature which had emerged from the ocean and seemed to be staring at me. Having paced NCB for a while it effortlessly moved away, so much more part of the ocean world than us humans aboard NCB. I felt breathless as it disappeared from sight.

British Zoologist, Mark Carwardine, described such an experience well in his ‘Last Chance to See’ series on BBC Radio 4: “To have a huge whale approach your boat and look you straight in the eye is without doubt one of the most extraordinary experiences on the planet.”

That memory came to mind when Ireland’s top ocean racer, Damian Foxall, wrote to me in his present role as Recreation Education Manager at the Canadian Wildlife Federation. As the number of ocean yacht races increases, he is running a campaign to help scientists better understand areas of the world’s oceans where marine mammals are at risk of being struck by boats. Increasingly during these races there have been reports of yachts striking unidentified objects. “Currently the database for marine mammal strikes is very sparse,” he says. “We want to assemble reports of boats striking them. If everyone co-operates it will help plan future racing safely.”

If you can help Damian’s campaign you can Email him to: [email protected] Listen to the podcast below

 

Published in Island Nation
Tagged under

#MarineScience - Scientists from Northern Ireland will lead a new project monitoring whale and dolphin sounds off the Scottish and Irish coasts, as BBC News reports.

The scheme led by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) will see a network of buoys deployed with devices to pick up cetacean chatter – as well as potentially harmful ocean sounds from sea traffic or industry.

"Displacement from noise is a very real effect and ... if it doesn't cause them to move will change their behaviours and, at the most acute levels, can cause physical and physiological damage to the animals,” says Dr Adam Mellor of the AFBI.

BBC News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineWildlife - Ireland’s whales and dolphins feature in a new atlas of the country’s wildlife, as The Irish Times reports.

The Atlas of Mammals in Ireland 2010-2015, published by the National Biodiversity Data Centre, maps the distribution of 77 mammal species both on the island and in its territorial waters.

Cetaceans account for almost a third of this number, among a whopping 68 species of whales and dolphins that frequent Irish waters.

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group’s Dr Simon Berrow relates his long-term study of the Shannon Estuary’s thriving population of bottlenose dolphins in a book that celebrates an encouraging national habitat for species that struggle not so far from our shores.

Afloat.ie readers might remember a previous atlas concentrating on Ireland’s abundance of marine mammals that was published in 2013, and for which this new book makes a useful comparison.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) received a report at the weekend of a large baleen whale struggling in the shallows at Cross Beach in north-west Co Mayo.

The 12-metre marine mammal, thought to be a sei whale or fin whale, was ushered back into deeper waters by a group surfing in the area on Sunday 27 November.

But locals are urged to keep a lookout over the next few days as the whale, believed to be injured or in poor health, is likely to strand again.

 

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - A young pilot whale was saved by a group of quick-thinking Wexford men after stranding on a beach at Kilmore Quay, as the New Ross Standard reports.

When Neil Bates spotted the 3m whale at Ballyteige Burrow and saw its blowhole move, he enlisted two other local men, John and Michael O'Flahery, to help refloat the animal.

And while it was it some distress for a time, it was soon out of the shallows and swimming in the direction of Hook Head.

In other marine wildlife news, the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group is seeking to recruit a new general manager, based out of the Shannon Dolphin Centre in Kilrush, Co Clare.

Details are on the IWDG website HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Sharks have been filmed devouring a whale carcass at the ocean's surface in waters close to Britain and Ireland for the first time.

The results of the documentary expedition were broadcast last Friday as part of the UTV series Britain's Whales, available for catch-up the rest of this week.

As the Plymouth Herald reports, the groundbreaking experiment was headed by West Country marine biologist Dr Nicholas Higgs along with presenters Ellie Harrison and Ben Fogle, who sailed out to the Celtic Deep between Ireland, Cornwall and Wales with the carcass of a humpback whale in tow.

Their documentary crew were then able to film an "unprecedented" feeding frenzy by hundreds of blue sharks before the carcass was sunk for further study to examine the various creatures, from sharks to tiny 'zombie worms', that thrive on dead cetaceans as they drop to the ocean floor.

"I would never have predicted that you'd have this many sharks eating this much of the whale at the surface," said Dr Higgs. The Plymouth Herald has more on the story HERE.



In other cetacean news, Japan has disappointed global authorities by confirming hundreds of whale kills on its most recent expedition to the Antarctic.

Some 333 minke whales, including pregnant females, were poached between since December and last Friday (25 March), according to the Guardian.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Ireland recently joined an international demarche expressing "serious concern" at Japan's decision to resume whaling for what it claims are scientific purposes, claims that are not supported by the International Whaling Commission.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Cork County Council has heard a proposal for a dedicated whale and dolphin trail along the county's coastline, as the Southern Star reports.

The Old Head of Kinsale, Mizen Head, Galley Head and Baltimore have already been identified as key locations for interpretive panels along the trail, the plans for which have had input from the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) and Fáilte Ireland, to tie in with the latter's Wild Atlantic Way initiative.

"A lot of people might think this is trivial, but it’s a huge tourism attraction around the world and whale watching in Co Cork is the best in Europe," said Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan. "It’s about time we realised this as it could have huge economic impact for the region."

The Southern Star has more on the story HERE.

Number 6
Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Following yesterday's news that porpoises hunt by 'sound searchlight' comes this similarly remarkable video report from the BBC that reveals a new breakthrough in understanding how cetaceans communicate.

Studies by researchers at Washington, DC's Smithsonian Institution have identified specific differences between whales species types in the ways they navigate the oceans using sound – and they appear to be connected to the way they feed.

While toothed cetaceans such as porpoise and sperm whales echolocate using forward-focused beams of sound, some baleen whale species – the kind that sift plankton from the water for food – have a more radial perception due to the different position of their ears, shifted to accommodate their much wider mouths.

The discovery could be key to reducing the harmful effects of ocean noise on such marine wildlife caused by shipping traffic, the use of sonar and seismic surveys.

BBC News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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