Displaying items by tag: orca
A pod of orcas or killer whales caused great excitement in Strangford Lough, County Down yesterday. As reported by BBC News NI, local skipper Richard Connor from Causeway Boats said that it may be unusual but not unheard of. It was the third time he had seen them in 22 years of skippering.
Biologist Suzanne Beck from the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute said the group that was in the lough are part of the West Coast community and may be seen a few times a year. "Usually they might travel on round the coast and the guys in the Hebrides might get a sighting and later they may travel right round Ireland, so you do hear of them every so often. They're just doing this circuit around us the whole time and it's only when they come close to the coast that we're getting these lucky sightings” They could have come in to chase a seal or been interested in different noises, but the concern was that they may keep travelling up through the Lough.
According to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group NI they were initially reported yesterday afternoon several miles off Ardglass on the County Down coast before they pushed north into Strangford Narrows. “We can confirm from the presence of the bull known as "John Coe" that they are from the Scottish West Coast Community Group, which today has a core group of just seven or eight remaining individuals. They are recorded most years on a few occasions in Irish waters and this is the eighth time this apex predator has been recorded along the Co. Down coast since 2001. This is however not the first time killer whales have entered Strangford Narrows as a pod of four were photographed on Regatta Day off Portaferry on Aug. 18th 1962”. It was an exciting sight for children.
The McCarthy family got wind it was happening from the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group NI's Facebook page and decided to take a quick detour. “When we arrived, they were on the turn back and there were three boats near them”, Mr McCarthy said. I was concerned that it could turn into an awkward situation if they didn't find their way out through the Narrows but they seemed to make their way back fairly comfortably". He said the three boats out with them "did a good job of holding back". "It was a stunning night and what a treat," he added.
Landscape photographer Richard Creagh was among the lucky few on Monday (27 June) to spot the orca known by the distinctive notch on his dorsal fin – though in more recent times he's also lost a chunk of his tail fluke, most likely to a shark bite.
Creagh, a keen marine wildlife watcher for the last 10 years, said: "Up to now killer whales had always eluded me but today I got to add them to my list, and what a sight it was! I’m still buzzing!"
John Coe's unique orca pod are regular visitors to Irish waters, though he himself was last spotted close to our shores almost three years ago at the Inishkeas in Co Mayo, according to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group – which is asking the public to watch the seas for any more sightings of the senior cetacean.
#DopeyDick - A killer whale who gained notoriety after swimming up the River Foyle in the late 1970s has been rediscovered enjoying his retirement off the west coast of Scotland, as the Derry Journal reports.
It's more than 38 years since the orca astounded the people of Derry by swimming up the estuary and hanging around the city for a number of days, earning the name 'Dopey Dick' for shrugging off attempts to lure him back to the safety of open water.
His whereabouts thereafter were unknown -- till cetacean experts with the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust compared old photographs of his Derry visit with more recent images of the unique orca community that makes its home off the western Scottish coast, and identified a positive match.
Comet, as the orca is properly known, is estimated to be at least 58 years old, double the usual life expectancy for the species.
But that's not so surprising for the orca pod referred to as the 'West Coast Community', which has been a regular visitor to Irish waters over the years, and has interested marine wildlife specialists for decades due to its "evolutionary significant" qualities.
Sadly that group's numbers have been dwindling, with fellow orca Lulu becoming the latest victim after its believed she was entangled in fishing gear early this year, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.
#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.
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.
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.
#MarineWildlife - A seal pup was lunch for a killer whale that's been attracting onlookers to Wales' Irish Sea coast in recent days.
As the Carmarthen Journal reports, the orca was first sighted of Mwnt, north of Cardigan, over the summer, but has since been spotted further down the coast near Fishguard - believed to be attracted by a boom in the local seal population.
It marks a rare appearance for the species in the Irish Sea, as they're more commonly spotted in Scottish waters and off Ireland's North Coast.
And it comes not long after another rare sight in the form of a pod of Risso's dolphins sighted near Anglesey in north Wales earlier this month - with experts telling BBC News that it may be one of the largest such pods ever recorded in Welsh waters.
#orca – Crews from commercial and Royal Navy vessels have started training for the Orca Ocean Watch Week, an initiative by the whale and dolphin conservation charity ORCA, that is being launched at Portsmouth International Port this month.
Between 25th July and 2nd August bridge crews are being asked to report all sightings of whales, dolphins and porpoises as they sail to and from Portsmouth International Port. The records they produce will help ORCA develop the clearest picture yet of just where the much loved marine mammals are living.
The enthusiastic team from ORCA have spent time training crews from a wide variety of operators, including the banana boats that come and go on a regular basis from the Caribbean and Central America. They've also spent time with the Royal Navy, briefing crews from Portsmouth based vessels.
The Royal Navy ships HMS Smiter, HMS Puncher, HMS Explorer and HMS Trumpeter will be sailing through the English Channel, down into the Northern Bay of Biscay and up into the Baltic Sea. These ships are among 11 vessels contributing to the activity from the 1st Patrol Boat Squadron that are operating all over Western Continental Europe and the British Isles.
Lieutenant Commander Phil Houghton of the 1st Patrol Boat Squadron said, "The Royal Navy and in particular 1PBS are delighted to be able to participate in OceanWatch 2015 and do what they can to support the better appreciation of the complex and vulnerable marine environment in which we operate. Only by understanding the animals and habitats around our local waters can we provide the appropriate protection for them."
Orca Ocean Watch Week will be launched on Monday 20th July by television wildlife expert Nigel Marven. Nigel will be joined at the new passenger terminal at Portsmouth International Port by a 50 foot, life-sized model of a blue whale, and school children eager to learn more about the variety of wildlife in the seas off Portsmouth.
By the time Ocean Watch Week is underway ORCA will have trained crews from over 20 vessels, including ferries, freight ships, cruise liners and small ships.
If you're interested in spotting these fantastic animals yourself, Brittany Ferries and ORCA offer Whale Watching mini cruises from Portsmouth, an increasingly popular trip across the Bay of Biscay, which is one of the most important habitats for whales and dolphins on the planet. ORCA is also working with operators at other ports along the South Coast and Scotland, attempting to get the widest coverage possible for its important survey.
The five-metre-long female orca was described as being in "a very fresh condition" and was found to have very worn teeth, which points to malnutrition as a potential cause of death.
A post-mortem is scheduled to be carried out tomorrow by a team from the IWDG and Galway-Mayo IT.
The incident is the latest in a "disturbing high" rate of cetacean strandings around the Irish coast this January, with a total of 32 recorded across nine identifiable species.
While it's as yet unknown what has caused this spike in numbers, the recent severe weather systems coming from the Atlantic may be a factor in driving carcasses of animals that may have died of natural causes towards the Irish coast.
The IWDG has more on the story HERE.
Marine wildlife experts who have been monitoring the group for two decades say that no live calves have been recorded since their research began, and that the females of the group can no longer reproduce.
The orca pod, of which nine adults remain, is said to be genetically distinct from other killer whales in the North Atlantic, and bares closer relation to their cousins in Antarctic waters.
A spokesperson for the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust described as "critical" the conservation status of the group.
"As sad as this is, the loss of this group has severe consequences, resulting in the loss of an evolutionary significant group of individuals," she added.
Sea angler Kevin Doherty, whose boat was treated to the spectacle, told UTV News: "We knew ourselves at that moment we were going to witness something special."
Local wildlife experts say the orca family came from the Scottish Hebrides and as well known - but this is the first time the whole family group has been recorded together on Ireland's North coast.