Displaying items by tag: marine wildlife
#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.
Known as much for his distinctive dorsal fin and his aggression towards swimmers, the solo dolphin was first seen in Irish waters in the summer of 2014, and later befriended fellow 'dolphins-non-grata' Sandy, AKA Dusty, as his travels took him from West Cork to the Aran Islands.
By December that year he had moved on to the west coast of Scotland, and he was last sighted seven months ago off Portland, near Weymouth on Britain's south coast, where he had been spotted numerous times a year ago.
His disappearance since last August has worried marine wildlife observers including the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, who have been tracking his progress since his first confirmed sightings in Brittany five years ago, though he was known to French fishermen since 2008.
The Plymouth Herald has more on the story HERE.
Setting sail from Cork on St Patrick's Day last week, the team – comprising acousticians, biologists and marine wildlife observers – are preparing to cover a massive area between the West of Ireland and the west coast of Scotland, including Rockall, as part of a flotilla of international research vessels from the Netherlands, Norway and the Faroe Islands.
#MarineWildlife - Dolphin and porpoise monitoring off the North Coast got a boost this week thanks to a £15,000 NI government grant for the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG), as Causeway Coastal Community reports.
“This is good news for the IWDG and for those with a passion for marine wildlife," said Northern Ireland's Environment Minister Mark Durkan on funding for the acoustic monitoring project, which will focus on cetacean populations off Portrush and the nearby Giant's Causeway.
The project also includes an outreach programme with local schools and communities to get local people invested in the protection of marine wildlife on their shores. Causeway Coastal Community has more on the story HERE.
Minister Durkan is also the subject of calls to add the waters off Islandmagee to recently recommended Marine Conservation Zones for Northern Ireland over fears that a new gas power station could create a marine 'dead zone' in the area.
Indeed, as you can see from the tweet below, the wooden nesting boxes installed beneath a harbour pier are just the right size for the harbour's nesting guillemots.
Here's to a happy new home for some of Belfast's most striking marine wildlife!
Construction just finished on our new waterside apartments. Created for v special residents-the Harbour's Guillemots pic.twitter.com/LrJYpWR5cF— Belfast Harbour (@BelfastHarbour) March 15, 2016
As the Belfast Telegraph reports, the call comes over fears that a planned Gaelectric gas power station could create a 'dead zone' in the North Channel caused by brine runoff from the plant.
Gaeletric maintains that even under a worst-case scenario, any impact of brine pumped into the sea on marine wildlife and plantlife would be low.
But the Islandmagee Community Residents Association argues that the development poses a threat to a "delicate and biodiverse" ecosystem in the area, which is home to vulnerable colonies of puffins as well as black guillemots and razorbills, among others.
As reported in December on Afloat.ie, Rathlin, Waterfoot, Outer Belfast Lough and Carlingford Lough were put forward for consideration as Marine Conservation Zones, the public consultation for which closed last Friday 11 March.
The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.
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.
A total of 28 confirmed standings were recorded in the IWDG's strandings database in January and February of this year, just below 2013's worst figures so far when 31 were reported.
That compares to an average of fewer than six reports for the same period each year between 2002 and 2010.
The current decade has seen a significant jump in recorded figures, with 18 reports of dolphin standings in 2011 compared to just two in the same months in 2010.
Many of the dolphins found this year were recorded in the North West, a great number of them drowned according to post-mortem results, while others showed signs of being tangled in fishing gear, which suggests they were bycatch in the nets of supertrawlers that ply the seas off Donegal, Sligo and Mayo.
"While there is no conclusive proof of what vessels are involved, the evidence points to the presence of large (c.100m) foreign registered freezer trawlers fishing in Irish offshore waters."
That's according to the IWDG's strandings officer Mick O'Connell, who warns that "the number of bycaught dolphins that actually get washed ashore and recorded as stranded may be only a small percentage of the actual number of dead animals."
The IWDG reiterates the call for independent observers to be placed on supertrawlers in Irish waters, following controversy over the visit of one of the world's largest fishing boats last November.
In other news, Scotland's Press and Journal reports that a humpback whale was killed after getting trapped in fishing ropes in the Outer Hebrides.
The juvenile whale was found dead on the Isle of Barra this week with the "classic signs of having suffered entanglement."
Earlier this month UPI reported on the antics of Sammy the seal, who's grown notorious for his habit of flopping across the road from the River Vartry to beg for scraps from a local fishmonger.
In his latest appearance, Broadsheet.ie reader Kevin O'Farrell videoed the flustered staff of The Fishman trying to halt Sammy from crossing what can be a busy road before throwing him his meal – one of three every day at high tide.
And as the onlooker adds, it's only been getting worse since a new lady seal came into Sammy's life, promoting the juvenile grey seal to show off his remarkable skills of persuasion.
Here's more on Sammy and his fishmonger friends in Wicklow from RTÉ News Now:
#MarineWildlife - There's some good news for marine wildlife in Clare and around the Irish coast as a recent study on the health of whales and dolphins in Europe's oceans identified Ireland's population as among the world's healthiest.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the paper in journal Scientific Reports identified lingering traces of now banned chemicals called PCBs that are still affecting the reproductive rates of cetaceans in European waters, particularly killer whales.
Biopsy samples of dolphins from the Shannon Estuary were included in the global study – but all indications are that the whales and dolphins that populate the sanctuary of Irish waters are among the healthiest in the region, though they still face the threat of pollutants in the Shannon Estuary, as the Clare Champion reports.