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Displaying items by tag: IWDG

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) is backing Limerick sailor Peter Lawlesspending solo, non-stop round-the-world voyage on his Rival 41 yacht Waxwing.

While the charity has sponsored the yacht’s passive self-steering equipment, in return Peter — son of the late solo circumnavigator Pat Lawless — will be testing out the IWDG’s new reporting app for marine wildlife sightings.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, sightings and strandings can be reported on the new app by scientists, researchers, boat operators, wildlife enthusiasts and whale-watchers alike.

And Peter — who sets off from Kilrush on 21 August — aims to take the app into the unknown, potentially recoding sightings and even video updated from parts of the ocean that may have never been visited before.

The IWDG’s chief Simon Berrow recently caught up with Peter on Waxwing as he makes his final preparations for his remarkable unassisted voyage:

Published in Solo Sailing

A recent rare sighting of a blue whale off the west of Ireland is the first in six years, it’s been reported.

Last weekend the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) shared an image of what’s believed to be a blue whale surfacing, as captured by Declan Horan from the the RV Celtic Explorer some 320km west of Slyne Head.

“Although we know from acoustic monitoring during the ObSERVE acoustic project that blue whales occur regularly along the western seaboard during autumn and winter, they are very rarely observed,” the IWDG said.

The Irish Mirror reports that this is the first confirmed sighting of a blue whale in Irish waters in six years — and only the 18th recorded since 2008.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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The remains of a whale washed up on a Co Wexford beach are likely to be those of a minke whale, the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) says.

According to The Irish Times, the dead whale was discovered on Blackhall Strand in southwest Wexford yesterday morning, Sunday 13 June.

Going by its description, IWDG sightings officer Pádraig Whooley said it was most likely a minke whale. Wexford County Council said it was appraising the situation, and The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Meanwhile, the IWDG has just published a new guide on what to do when encountering a live-stranded whale, dolphin or porpoise.

Along with details on how to assess and care for the animal, Face to Face with a Beached Whale also includes practical information on dealing with other marine wildlife including turtles, seals, otters and seabirds.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) says it has confirmed its first humpback whale match between Ireland’s waters and the Canary Islands.

Images of a fluke and dorsal fin captured by Alex Brenner at Valle Gran Rey on La Gomera were, with the help of Nick Massett, compared with those of a humpback photographed by IWDG member Simon Duggan at Baltimore in early December 2012.

“On matching the images we can confirm that this is indeed the same individual #HBIRL21, whom we’ve not recorded in Irish waters over the interim nine years,” the IWDG says.

The development marks an important new connection between Ireland and the Spanish island chain off north-west Africa, following earlier links confirmed with key humpback whale breeding grounds off Cape Verde further south.

Published in Marine Wildlife

A new marine mammal reporting “app” promises to “elevate” recording of whales, dolphins and porpoises in these waters.

Sightings and strandings can be reported on the new “app” by scientists, researchers, boat operators, wildlife enthusiasts and whale watchers, the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group says.

The technology can take the observer logically through the steps necessary for the reporting of both sightings (casual and effort) and strandings (live and dead), the NGO says.

Earlier this week, it was confirmed that over 2,000 people had signed an online petition calling for legal protection for basking sharks in these waters.

The petition was aimed at encouraging TDs to support The Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2021 tabled last week by Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore.

The bill may make it illegal for anyone to intentionally or recklessly injure, disturb or harass the second-largest fish in the world’s oceans.

Basking sharks are an endangered species, but don’t enjoy the same protection in law as whales, dolphins, porpoise and seals in Irish waters.

IWDG co-ordinator Dr Simon Berrow says: Ireland and its coastal communities have “historically benefited from basking shark fisheries and today we have a duty to provide protection for this highly mobile species when they occupy Irish territorial waters."

The new biological recording tool for cetaceans is being rolled out to coincide with National Biodiversity week.

The IWDG Reporting App has been developed by Compass Informatics and funded by LEADER through the Clare Local Development Company (CLDC).

It will be available to download from today on the App store for iPhones, and the Google Play store for Android.

The Reporting App also links to the iwdg.ie website which offers “seamless browsing of the IWDG’s sightings and stranding datasets with online mapping”.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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More than 2,000 people have already signed an online petition in support of legal protection for basking sharks in Irish waters.

The appeal was started by Simon Berrow of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group to encourage TDs to support The Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2021 tabled last week by Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the bill would make it illegal for anyone to intentionally or recklessly injure, disturb or harass the second-largest fish in the world’s oceans.

While basking sharks are an endangered species, they are currently not afforded the same protections in law as whales, dolphins, porpoise and seals in Irish waters.

Berrow says: "Ireland and our coastal communities have historically benefited from basking shark fisheries and today we have a duty to provide protection for this highly mobile species when they occupy Irish territorial waters."

He adds: "Adding the species to Schedule Five of the Wildlife Act (1976) as amended is the simplest method to provide protection for the species in Irish territorial waters."

Find the petition at MyUplift HERE.

Published in Sharks
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Offshore renewables must not be pursued at the cost of Ireland’s biodiversity, an Oireachtas committee has been told.

According to The Irish Times, members of the Oireachtas Committee on Climate Change heard statements from various environmental and conservation groups who explained how Ireland’s waters and coastal areas are under threat from the effects of climate change as well as pollution and invasive species.

Ellen MacMahon of the Sustainable Water Network noted the important role of wind energy in decarbonising the Irish economy.

But she added that “marine protected areas are often overlooked in the role they can play in addressing the twin climate and biodiversity emergencies”.

Her comments were echoed by Dr Simon Berrow of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, who said offshore wind farms “cannot be considered in isolation” from their immediate environments and urged that such green energy projects are “not at further cost to Ireland’s already depleted marine habitats and species”.

The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Environment

West Cork is enjoying a veritable bounty of whale sightings “in dolphin numbers”, as the Southern Star reports.

Video recorded last week near Union Hall shows two humpbacks who followed a whale watching vessel “in a very sociable mood”, according to Cork Whale Watch’s Colin Barnes.

He descried it as the best marine wildlife sighting of its kind in the last two decades — a sentiment echoed by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group’s Padraig Whooley.

Noting a recent report of as many as 100 minke whales spotted on a single boat trip, Whooley said the whale activity off the South Coast at present is “exceptional on a global scale”.

The Southern Star has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

The Irish Independent covers the excitement among the denizens of Drogheda after a dolphin swimming up the River Boyne paid an unexpected visit to the town.

Reports of a dog in the water yesterday morning (Thursday 22 April) turned out to be wide of the mark when Boyne Fishermen Rescue and Recovery encountered the “medium-sized dolphin” in the River Boyne at the Upper Mell slipway, just east of the town centre and some 7km from the open sea.

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group says the marine wildlife is likely to be a bottlenose and called for the public to contact it with any images or reports of further sighings.

While there is no immediate cause for concern, dolphins are saltwater animals and can develop serious kidney and skin problems with prolonged exposure to freshwater environments.

Published in Marine Wildlife

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has said it is “irresponsible to raise peoples' hopes” that a dolphin spotted off West Cork in recent days might be Dingle’s missing resident bottlenose, Fungie.

Cork Beo reported on Sunday (11 April) on video recorded off the Old Head of Kinsale of a playful solitary dolphin which has sparked optimism that Fungie has reappeared some six months since he vanished from Dingle Harbour, his home since 1983.

But the IWDG has moved to play down such hopes, reminding that bottlenose dolphins like Fungie “are abundant and widespread throughout Irish coastal waters”.

It added: “While the IWDG are surprised at this individual’s behaviour around the boat it was recently filmed from, it is way too early to speculate that this dolphin is Fungie.

“The IWDG have validated 13 sightings of bottlenose dolphins off the Irish coast already this month (April) from Co Kerry to Co Louth.”

The group is awaiting clearer images of the dolphin’s tail fluke or dorsal fin before it makes any confirmed identification.

“The IWDG feel it is irresponsible to raise peoples’ hopes that this might indeed be Fungie, while current evidence merely shows it to be a bottlenose dolphin behaving in an unexpected fashion,” it said.

It’s not the first video of a frolicking dolphin to cause a stir in recent weeks, as footage captured in Galway Bay last month raised hopes that Fungie had relocated along the West Coast.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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