Displaying items by tag: marine wildlife
#TALL SHIPS - The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has secured three-quarters of the funding it required to refit its research vessel Celtic Mist.
According to The Irish Times, the Clare Local Development Company has approved the allocation of a €48,000 grant towards the refurbishment of the ketch.
The work will be carried out by Cathal Blunnie and several sub-contractors, and involves stripping down the main cabin and removing the bath and shower to increase space for crew berths.
While the ship's clock will be retained, the ship’s wheel in the main cabin will be removed and presented to the Haughey family as a gesture of appreciation.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the 52-foot yacht - which was gifted by the Haughey family to the IWDG to assist in its marine wildlife conservation work - entered dry dock last November in preparation for the refit work, after relocating to its new berth at Kilrush, Co Clare in July.
The cost of refurbishing the yacht for research and training purposes is expected to top €60,000, with an annual running cost of some €20,000, for which the IWDG is seeking ongoing financial assistance.
The group aims to get the Celtic Mist back at sea before the summer.
#MARINE WILDLIFE - Ireland's first humpback whale of the year has been spotted off the Wexford coast.
The sighting was made yesterday by whale-watchers among a pod of fin whales some three miles south of Hook Head, according to TheJournal.ie.
The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has also confirmed that the humpback is a new sighting in Irish waters, and has been designated the reference HBIRL18.
RTÉ News has images of the humpback whale HERE.
The Galway Bay Hotel will be the site for the main conference sessions, while workshops will also be held at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT).
This year's gathering is being held under the theme 'Communication: Information and Ideas Worth Sharing'. Participants will be exploring communication between marine mammals as well as between marine scientists, and between scientists and the public.
As Ireland's Wildlife reports, the conference "offers a offers a great opportunity to find out more about whales and dolphins, their conservation, the cetacean research being carried out in Europe and to meet the researchers who are working to uncover the mysteries of these most enigmatic of creatures."
Registration is now open for the two-day event. For full details of the conference programme, venues and booking information, visit the European Cetacean Society Conference micro site HERE.
#SHIPPING - The Greek-owned cargo ship which ran aground off New Zealand three months ago - described as the country's worst maritime disaster - has split in two in heavy seas.
In a scene thankfully avoided closer to home, with the successful tranfer of 54,000 tonnes of vacuum gas oil from the damaged tanker Germar Companion in Belfast Lough, rough conditions off the New Zealand coast have caused the stern section of the Rena to snap off.
As many as 300 containers were washed overboard, polluting the water with milk powder and other debris, and fears are growing of a new oil spill in the coming days posing a threat to marine wildlife.
According to BBC News, hundreds of tonnes of fuel have spilled into the sea since the ship first ran aground at the Atrolabe Reef off North Island on 5 October, causing the deaths of hundreds of seabirds.
Though more than 1,100 tonnes of oil have been removed from the stricken vessel, some 385 tonnes remain aboard.
BBC News has more on the story HERE.
IWDG co-ordinator Dr Simon Berrow confirmed a total of 160 strandings reported by year's end.
"This is by far the highest total for the number of stranding records and the third highest total for sighting records since the IWDG recording schemes were established in 1991," he said.
The 2011 record compares to a figure of 92 stranded cetaceans in 2010 - a number much lower than previous years.
Dr Berrow explained to BBC News: "The figures for 2010 were very low, and, we think, this was due to the easterly winds that year. But now we are back up to the kind of level we expect."
Stranding records in 2011 were characterised by a very high peak of common dolphin strandings during February and a high number of porpoise strandings during the winter.
Meanwhile, Dr Berrow considered the latest sightings record "very impressive" given the exceptionally poor sea conditions during autumn and winter.
More than 1,500 whale and dolphin sightings were made in 2011 around the entire coastline of Ireland despite the bad weather.
#CORK HARBOUR - Amateur birdwatchers in Cork were in a tizzy last week over the sighting of what appeared to be two penguins floating on an 'ice floe' near Crosshaven, the Cork Independent reports.
The mystery was answered at 'press conference' in popular local haunt Cronin's Bar, where Weitse Buwalda of Salve Marina in Crosshaven – and a friend of Afloat - confirmed that the plastic penguins had been "captured" in the marina before Christmas.
“They were fouling up the place so we shoved them out there on a bit of polystyrene to keep the place clean,” he said with tongue firmly in cheek.
The sightings had sparked much debate among locals, with concerns that the Antarctic avians had broken out of nearby Fota Island Wildlife Park - though this was denied by park officials, who said their full penguin complement was accounted for.
It's the second time in six months that Cork's penguins have gone viral on the internet, following the video of the 'lonely penguin' at Fota Island last July, which shows the little one abandoned by his family at dinner time:
The Cork Independent has more on the story HERE.
Dr Simon Berrow of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group confirmed that reports had been received of a bottlenose whale on White Strand in Co Clare, a pilot whale on Fintra Beach in Co Donegal and a dolphin in Silverstrand, Co Galway - all found dead.
The latest find was a male sperm whale stranded on Omey Island in Co Galway, shed of its skin and with a broken lower jaw.
"Chances are it died offshore and got washed in with the wind," said Berrow.
The IWDG said such strandings were relatively common, although as reported on Afloat.ie earlier this year there has been growing concern over the rising number of dolphin deaths along the south coast in particular.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the museum was 'soft' opened to invited groups in October to showcase the developments.
Located in the Mariners’ Church in Dún Laoghaire Harbour, close to the East Pier, exhibits at the museum previously included various marine artefacts and models, as well as a maritime library.
In addition, the new museum will include a section dedicated to marine wildlife, with exhibits on various birds and fish living around the Irish coast.
Hugh O'Rorke is in charge of the marine life section, and is seeking contributions of objects from the public. For more details contact Hugh at [email protected] or 086 372 4676.
#MARINE WILDLIFE - They were thought to have disappeared from the east coast in October after delighting wildlife enthusiasts in Dublin and Wicklow.
But concerns that one of the group had died were swept side when the pod of three bottlenose dolphins was once again spotted off Killiney recently.
The Wicklow People reports that the two adults and one juvenile reappeared almost two weeks ago, and have been seen daily "putting on great displays of leaping, breaching, and tail slapping".
Fears were that tragedy had befallen the group when two bottlenoses were seen off Skerries and Balbriggan in late October, and a juvenile was found dead in Portmarnock shortly after.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, some 200 sightings of the dolphins between Dalkey Island and Wicklow town in recent months were validated by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG).
According to the IWDG, evidence suggests that the pod is now resident off the east coast.
The Wicklow People has more on the story HERE.
#MARINE WILDLIFE - Sligo County Council is considering its options for disposal after the county's second whale stranding of the winter, when a 60ft male fin whale was beached at Agharrow.
A spokesperson told the Sligo Champion that the whale was in an area known locally as Staid Abbey, lying on a smooth rock ledge that slopes down towards the sea, and is a difficult point to access - particularly in the present stormy conditions.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, a whale carcass was washed up at the end of last month not far from Agharrow at Raughley. The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has confirmed that this was the first validated stranding recorded of a fin whale in Co Sligo.
That whale had its flesh removed for fertiliser, while its bones were studied by PhD students from NUI Galway ahead of being buried in a nearby field to allow for the natural decomposition of remaining flesh before future preservation.