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Displaying items by tag: marine wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Whale sightings are on the increase in the South East this week as the season tapers off, according to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG).

"As large whales don't keep to our calendar year, this annual south east flurry of large whale sightings represents the tail-end our our large whale season," says the IWDG's sightings officer Pádraig Whooley.

"And what a season it has been, especially for the humpback whale, which have enjoyed a record year both in terms of frequency of sightings since they first appeared in early May off the Slea Head Peninsula."

The latest spots were made both on land – by Andrew Malcolm and Ann Trimble from Ardmore Co in Waterford at the weekend – and on a whale-watching trip with Martin Colfer's South Coast Charter Angling, recording a humpback whale and more than five fin whales between them.

And there might still be time to head down to the Sunny South East to catch a glimpse of these ocean giants before they depart for the spring.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Wildlife experts on the Isle of Man have been stumped by the carcass of an otter – a species not native to the island – found on Port Erin beach last Friday (15 January).

As BBC News reports, while the once severely threatened British otter population has recovered to the extent that the marine mammals can now be found in every county in England, they have never knowingly been a presence on Man – until now.

And with no microchip present on the animal to determine the deceased otter's origin, or indicate how it got to the island in the middle of the Irish Sea, the local wildlife trust has something of a mystery on its hands.

BBC News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Twenty per cent of England's waters are now protected by Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) after 23 new sites were designated by the UK government, as the Guardian reports.

Two sites in the Irish Sea – Allenby Bay on the Solway Firth, and West of Walney off Barrow-in-Furness, both in Cumbria – number among the latest zones announced yesterday (Sunday 17 January).

The news comes a month after Northern Ireland put forward four new proposed sites for consultation, and more than two years after Westminster confirmed the first 27 MCZs around the British coastline, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

With the latest designations, that now brings the total number of conservation zones in England to 50 – still less than half of the 127 sites originally proposed after the passing of the Marine Act six years ago.

And according to marine conservation experts, even with these designations "the UK’s rich marine life has very little protection'.

Prof Callum Roberts of the University of York added that the MCZs are no more than "paper parks".

"They have no management at all, so life within them remains unprotected," he said. "They will be worse than useless, giving the illusion of protection where none is present."

The Guardian has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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#MarineWildlife - A new film on a decade-long study of humpback whales in the Atlantic will have a special screening in Cork later this month, as The Southern Star reports.

The Humpback Whales of Cape Verde – which stars some of the marine giants that visit Cape Clear every year – will be shown to the public in a free event at Clonakilty Library at 7.30pm on Wednesday 27 January.

It following the work of Dr Simon Berrow of GMIT the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG), who has been a part of annual marine science expeditions to Cape Verde for a number of years, studying the humpback whales of the islands off Western Africa – and their connections with West Cork, where the species is regularly spotted each summer.

Dr Berrow also featured on Afloat.ie this week for the new journal paper he co-authored on the threat of banned toxic chemicals in European waters to killer whales and other cetaceans.

Note: a previous reference to a screening in North Donegal was inaccurate, but dates of future library tour screenings for the film from February 2016 can be found HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Toxic chemicals banned in Europe nearly 30 years ago are still polluting the seas off the continent.

And marine scientists fear their continued presence could spell the end for the killer whale and other species in European waters, as the Irish Examiner reports.

The warning comes from newly published research on concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, in marine wildlife – specifically orcas and other dolphins – in Irish, British and Mediterranean waters.

Co-authored by Dr Simon Berrow of GMIT and the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, the paper in the latest issue of journal Scientific Reports claims that despite the outright ban on the use of PCBs since 1987, they persist in "dangerously high levels in European cetaceans".

High exposure to PCBs, once used in the manufacture of paints and electrical equipment, weakens the immune systems of cetaceans and has a severe effect on their breeding rates.

The paper is available online HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Marine wildlife fans in the Dublin Bay area will be on the lookout for a group of bottlenose dolphins that have been spotted between Killiney and Dun Laoghaire.

It's the first sighting of the species off South Dublin since August 2012 when a pod of three dolphins that had delighted local residents for two years, as previously reported on Afloat.ie, moved on around the coast towards Kerry and beyond.

According to Irish Whale and Dolphin Group sightings officer Pádraig Whooley, it's not clear whether this is the same group of two adults and a juvenile returning to their previously regular haunt.

But with regular reports of sightings between Scotsman's Bay, Bullock Harbour and Killiney Bay since 2 January, there will surely be plenty of opportunity to get the necessary photographic evidence.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - The killer whale found beached on a Scottish island last weekend likely died after getting entangled in fishing gear for days, say experts.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the orca known as Lulu to researchers, who have been tracking her unique pod since the early 1990s, was discovered on the island of Tiree in the Inner Hebrides last Sunday 3 January.

Lulu's "evolutionary significant" group has been under threat for years due to the absence of calves among its number since scientists began monitoring them around the Scottish and north Irish coasts.

But according to The Press and Journal, Lulu's death was not down to natural causes – with a post-mortem report from experts at the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme claiming "convincing evidence that she had become chronically entangled" in fishing gear, with deep wounds consistent with a rope wrapping around her tail.

“There were no ropes or gear left on the carcass," said the scientists in a statement. "We’re assuming all this from the lesions we found on her body, so we don’t know if this was due to active fishing gear, abandoned or ‘ghost’ gear, or other marine debris."

The Press and Journal has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#AnimalRescue - Northern Ireland coastguard teams raced to the aid of a dog trapped on a cliff ledge in Co Down earlier this week.

As the Belfast Telegraph reports, eight coastguard volunteers fought their way across boggy ground to reach the terrier that had slipped down the cliff from the Ballyhornan Coastal Path.

But once on the scene, a winch was quickly set up to rescue the petrified pooch and return him to his owners.

A rescue of a different kind was celebrated in Co Wexford in recent days after a loggerhead turtle washed up in Kilmore Quay over the Christmas period.

According to the Wexford People, the turtle – of a species used to much warmer waters – was named Ninja by staff at the Seal Rescue Ireland sanctuary who nursed her back to health after she beached alive just before Christmas.

A second turtle found over the same period at Ballyhealy Beach sadly died.

"Ninja was our first turtle in the centre and we were extremely happy with her progress," said manager Meadow Greenwood. "Our fingers are still crossed for a full recovery and final ending of release."

Ninja has since been transferred to the longer-term marine wildlife care facilities at Galway Atlantaquaria.

Published in Rescue

#MarineWildlife - One of the last remaining members of a unique pod of killer whales has been found dead on a Scottish island.

As STV News reports, the orca known as Lulu to marine researchers was found beached on the island of Tiree in the Inner Hebrides on Scotland's west coast on Sunday 3 January.

Like John Doe, who is believed to have survived an altercation with a shark a year ago, Lulu was one of a familiar family of orcas that's regularly seen off Scotland and even as far west as the Donegal coast.

It's a pod that's piqued the interest of marine science due to its genetic distinctiveness from other orcas in the North Atlantic, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

But the "evolutionary significant" group's numbers have been dwindling in recent years due to the absence of calves since scientists started tracking them more than two decades ago.

"It is particularly sad to know that another one of these killer whales, unique to the British and Irish Isles, has died," said the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust. "There may be as few as eight individuals remaining in this population."

STV News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#Biodiversity - Climate change is putting increasing pressure on natural habitats for Irish wildlife, particularly where biodiversity is affected by human action.

That's the conclusion of the first National Biodiversity Indicators report, which sought to measure changes affecting marine wildlife and inland species alike in terms of temperature, rainfall and other factors, as The Irish Times reports.

Dr Tomás Murray, an ecologist with the National Biodiversity Data Centre who co-ordinated the report with Deirdre Lynn of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, shared his alarm that only five per cent of Ireland's known species have been assessed for their conservation status.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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