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Displaying items by tag: sharks

A shark species previously unrecorded in Irish waters has been sighted in the Celtic Sea.

A smooth hammerhead shark was reported on the edge of the continental shelf, south-west of Ireland, during a recent fisheries survey on the Marine Institute’s RV Celtic Explorer.

The sighting was made by experienced marine mammal observer John Power and bird observer Paul Connaughton during the Marine Institute’s Western European Shelf Pelagic Acoustic Survey (WESPAS).

“While scanning the ocean surface, we sighted a dorsal fin unlike anything we had encountered before,” said Power.

“It was quite different to the fins seen on basking sharks and blue sharks. After consulting available ID keys, we agreed that the shark must be a smooth hammerhead.”

The large, tall and slender dorsal fin of the smooth hammerhead shark distinguishes it from other shark species. The smooth hammerhead also has a single-notch in the centre of its rounded head and is up to four metres in length.

The species gives birth to live young and the pups are usually found in the shallow sandy waters near Florida, the Caribbean and West Africa. However, the species has been recorded as far north as England and Wales.

The smooth hammerhead was sighted during the WESPAS survey, which surveys the waters from France to Scotland and the West of Ireland each year.

Marine scientists collect acoustic and biological data on herring, boarfish and horse mackerel, which is used to provide an independent measure of these fish stocks in Irish waters. Scientists also monitor plankton, sea birds and marine mammals during this survey.

This is an exciting encounter, especially since a rare deep-water shark nursery was discovered by Irish scientists last year

Dr Paul Connolly, director of fisheries and ecosystems services at the Marine Institute, said: “Our Irish waters support a range of marine life and diverse ecosystems, including 35 known species of sharks.

“This is an exciting encounter, especially since a rare deep-water shark nursery, 200 miles west of Ireland, was discovered by Irish scientists last year using the Marine Institute's Remotely Operated Vehicle [ROV Holland 1].”

He added: “This sighting of a new shark species shows the importance of our fishery surveys to monitor our marine environment, and to observe changes in our oceans and marine ecosystems.

“Observing and understanding a changing ocean, is essential for protecting and managing our marine ecosystems for the future.”

The hammerhead shark poses little risk to humans, and there have been no known fatalities from hammerhead sharks anywhere in the world to date.

The species is listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, and is being increasingly targeted for the shark fin trade as its large fins are highly valued.

Thirty-five species of sharks have been recorded in Irish waters, including the blue shark, porbeagle shark, lesser spotted dogfish and the second-largest shark in the world, the basking shark — a regular visitor inshore during the summer months.

Published in Marine Wildlife

Children from Rang 2 at Scoil Shéamais Naofa in Bearna got up close and personal with sharks on the RV Celtic Explorer as part of the Marine Institute’s outreach and engagement programme.

The pupils completed a project module on sharks in Irish waters as part of the Marine Institute’s Explorers Education Programme, and also had the opportunity to visit the State research vessel.

Outreach officer Padraic Creedon of the Explorers Education Programme said one if the programme’s unique elements “is the content and support provided to teachers in the classroom in an easy and fun way.

“The students were inspired by the discovery of a rare shark nursery 200 miles off the west coast of Ireland in 2018, and we were delighted to create lessons, interactive experiments and discussion about the ocean, sharks and their environment for the class.”

While on board the RV Celtic Explorer, pupils met with the captain and scientists and saw what it might be like to work on a research vessel.

Students spoke with Captain Denis Ronan about the Celtic Explorer, and learn more about the acoustically silent ship that can stay out at sea for up to 35 days.

The pupils were excited to tour the vessel and speak with marine scientists to discover more about shark species, seabed mapping, shipwrecks and the marine environment.

Visiting the dry and wet labs, the pupils saw various fish species from recent surveys and shark species, such as dogfish and the tope shark.

Clár Ní Bhraonáin, teacher at Scoil Shéamais Naofa, said: “It has been an amazing experience … Students don’t forget days like this.”

The Explorers programme offers a range of materials including lesson plans to conduct experiments in class, watching films that helps generate discussion, and peer learning among pupils.

“Because of the students’ enthusiasm to learn more about sharks, we have been able to incorporate marine themes across the curriculum, where they have excelled and produced some incredible work, from writing books about sharks to a series of posters and artwork,” Ní Bhraonáin added.

“This project has really helped myself and the students learn more about the ocean.”

For more information on the Explorers Education outreach centres, visit the Explorers Contacts page at Explorers.ie. The programme is supported by the Marine Institute and is funded under the Marine Research Programme by the Government.

Published in Marine Wildlife

A four-day shark festival with a €250,000 prize fund is set to put Ballycotton on the sea angling map later this year.

In his latest Angling Notes for The Irish Times, Derek Evans says the Ballycotton Big Fish from 12-15 September will be the biggest festival of its kind in Europe.

The event is the brainchild of Ballycotton-born Pearse Flynn, an experienced deep-sea angler who was determined to attract the world’s top competitors to an East Cork town already renowned for its big fish records.

Prizes are set to be awarded for biggest shark landed, as well as for the boat that lands the greater number of sharks ever the course of the tournament.

But only big spending anglers need apply, as the entry fee is a whopping €5,000 per head.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Angling

Members of the Marine Institute, INFOMAR and Explorers Education teams, as well as the chief scientist of the SeaRover survey, will be at the Galway Science and Technology Festival this Sunday (25 November) highlighting the recent discovery of a rare shark nursery in deep waters off the West of Ireland.

The shark-themed stand — All About Sharks, Sharks and More Sharks — will also provide children and their families an insight into the life of a marine scientist, what seabed mapping involves and how this led to the discovery of the shark nursery.

“It was incredible, real David Attenborough stuff,” David O'Sullivan, chief scientist for the SeaRover survey, told the Guardian. “This is a major biological find and a story of this magnitude would have been on Blue Planet if they'd known about it. Very, very little is known on a global scale about deep-sea shark nurseries.”

The SeaRover suvey, using the Marine Institute’s remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Holland 1 onboard the ILV Granuaile, took place during the summer 2018 off the Irish coast.

And its findings show the significance of documenting sensitive marine habitats, which will assist in a better understanding of the biology of these animals and their ecosystem function in Ireland’s Biologically Sensitive Area.

If you’re interested in learning more about the discovery of the sailfin sharks, you will find the experts at the back of the Bailey Allen Hall at NUI Galway from 10am to 6pm. Entry is free of charge and open to the public.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineWildlife - A whopping 71 species of shark can be found swimming in Irish waters.

That’s according to the new New Red List of Cartilaginous Fish, as reported by TheJournal.ie, which adds that half of all sharks in Europe can be found swimming around the Irish coast.

Eleven of these species are classified as either ‘endangered' ’critically endangered’, such as the porbeagle shark, the Portuguese dogfish and the basking shark — the second-largest fish in the oceans and a frequent visitor to Irish inshore waters.

The Red List comes hot on the heels of a new atlas of Ireland’s wildlife that’s dominated by whales and dolphins, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

And it also notes that outside of Ireland, where angling for such species is predominantly catch-and-release, recreational fishing poses a growing threat to cartilaginous fish like sharks, skates and rays.

TheJournal.ie has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
Tagged under

#Surfing - An Irishman has been praised for his heroism after saving his best friend from an attack by a great white shark in Australia just over a year ago.

As Independent.ie reports, Shane de Roiste leapt into action when his friend Dale Carr was bitten by the ferocious ocean predator while the pair were surfing off Port Macquarie in New South Wales.

"It really is like you see in the Jaws movies," said Wexford man de Roiste recalling that fateful day in August 2015. "The person is just shaken around in the water.”

Carr finally fought off the shark by jamming a thug into one of its eyes, but we was left with a severe bite on his thigh and was losing a lot of blood.

De Roiste remained with his friend throughout, paddling him back to shore and using laces from the fins of Carr's body board to keep the wound closed till help arrived.

The Irishman has now been nominated by his friend for a Pride of Australia award, the winners of which will be announced this November.

The attack just over a year ago was one of a number of incidents reported in the eastern Australian state in the latter half of 2015.

Independent.ie has more on the story HERE, while de Roiste shared his story with Matt Cooper on Newstalk's The Last Word yesterday evening.

Published in Surfing
Tagged under

#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.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Airborne drones will soon be used to patrol stretches of the Australian coast popular with Irish emigrants and holidaymakers that have seen numerous great white shark attacks over recent months.

According to BBC News, the New South Wales government will deploy drones with GPS and cameras providing a live feed to operators who can recommend action to close beaches to bathing and watersports as necessary.

The drones will work in tandem with a 'smart' drum line that will alert officials on the shore as soon as a shark is snagged on its baited hooks.

"We are delivering on a commitment to test the best science available, including new technologies, as we try to find a long term-term solution to keep our beaches safe," said NSW minister for primary industries Niall Blair.

BBC News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - A conspicuous chunk missing from the tail fluke of a killer whale resident in Scottish waters is evidence of an altercation with a shark, as BBC News reports.

The orca, known as John Doe, is one of the familiar pod of killer whales that's commonly seen off the west of Scotland but has also been spotted in Donegal and off the east Scottish coast near Aberdeen.

Marine scientists have long been interested in the group because of its genetic distinctness from other killer whales in the north Atlantic – with studies showing they bear closer relation to orcas found in Antarctic waters.

And this latest discovery is troubling in light of the group's already precarious status, with no calves recorded among them since experts began to study them two decades ago.

The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT) said it could not "realistically speculate" on what species of shark may have been to blame for the bite.

But one it most certainly isn't is the plankton-hungry basking shark, a species that's seen a drastic fall in numbers locally over the past year, according to the Irish Examiner.

Sightings of the ocean's second largest fish – after the similarly harmless whale shark – have dwindled by a third on 2013 figures, which the HWDT says is part of a trend.

However, experts have moved to quell any concerns over the health of the marine species, as they may simply have moved to offshore waters – or below the surface – in search of greater supplies of their favourite foodstuff.

Basking sharks may be seen less often, but there's another shark species in the oceans that even the experts know very little about – and one of them was just landed in the Philippines.

The Washington Post has more on the 'mysterious' megamouth shark, a prehistoric looking beast that was only discovered by science in 1976 and has been sighted just 64 times since then.

Scientists still have no idea of the size of their population or in what oceans they're concentrated, and this find may reveal little more - but it might tell us something new about their plankton-based diet and their unique physiology.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#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.

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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