Displaying items by tag: Whales
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.
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.
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.
#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.
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.
#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.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, scientists have recently tracked first the firm time ever whales travelling between popular spots on the Irish coast like Hook Head and feeding grounds thousands of miles way in the Arctic.
Now you can learn more about this new research in Philip Bromwell's TouchCast report, including cetacean experts' surprise at finding no matches between Irish whale and the popular breeding grounds in the mid Atlantic and the West Indies.
Another RTÉ TouchCast report worth watching pays a visit to the studios of Cartoon Saloon, nominated for an Oscar for their animated feature Song of the Sea that takes its inspiration from Irish maritime folklore.
But at the same time grows the fear of a collision with one of these ocean giants that looms at the back of every offshore sailor's mind.
However, as Yachting World reports, there may be measures you can take to minimise that risk should you come in close quarters with a whale – or better yet, a whale pod.
Does painting the bottom of your boat in the colour red help? It turns out that it might make all the difference, as some scientific research suggests whales can perceive that colour in stark contrast to the rest of their environment, giving them a chance to swim around the vessel and keep danger at bay.
Speed is also an issue, with the vast majority of whale collisions occurring at speeds of over 14 knots – a trend that could be curbed by managing speed limits in whale-rich zones, plotting smarter courses or using dedicated on-deck observers.
Still the vast majority of encounters with whales are peaceful, even "dumbfounding" – but you don't want to startle them, as one group of divers off the island of Dominica learned when a sperm whale released its bowels right on top of them.
The Irish Mirror reports that the "poo cloud" is thought to be a defence mechanism – clouding the clear Caribbean water with a "poonado", as diver and photographer Keri Wilk described the 30-metre wide mass of waste.
"I had poop in my eyes, mouth, wetsuit, everywhere and I was soaked in it from head to toe," he said – though luckily it washed away quickly, bad smells and all!
#MarineWildlife - An extreme sports enthusiast has been lambasted for climbing onto the floating carcass of a whale while it was surrounded by sharks.
As Main Online reports, Perth man Harrison Williams was spotted by surprised onlookers swimming to the dead whale floating in the sea off Western Australia – despite it being circled by a number of tiger sharks and at least one great white shark.
"If sharks were feeding on that whale carcass when he swam over then that type of behaviour is highly risky," said Tony Cappelluti, regional manager with Western Australia's Department of Fisheries.
But Harrison shrugged off his critics, saying that "the whale looked in distress and I tried to help it. But clearly I was too late."
Mail Online has more on the story HERE.
This marked the first sighting of the distinctively marked male humpback since November 2012, and the ninth year he's been spotted since he was first recorded in August 2001.
The Boomerang sighting was just the tip of the iceberg on an eventful day for cetacean spotting on the annual Celtic Sea Herring Acoustic Survey, which included nine fin whales in various groups seen in close proximity.
The IWDG has much more on the story HERE.