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Displaying items by tag: Dolphins

#MarineWildlife - BBC News has some incredible footage of a 'superpod' comprising hundreds of dolphins in the Irish Sea captured this week.

The video was shot by surprised researchers with the Wales-based Sea Trust on one of the groups routine survey expeditions between Fishguard and Rosslare on board the Stena Europe ferry.

Cliff Benson of the marine wildlife charity described the sea as "boiling" with dolphins just 10 miles off the Irish coast yesterday morning.

"They were just coming and coming. It was the last thing on earth I was expecting in the winter," he said. "We had at least 250 and that's a conservative estimate. I'm guessing there was as many as 500."

The incredible sight comes just a month after the researchers recorded what they called a "dolphin-fest" along the same route west of Tusker Rock, numbering more than a 100 dolphins and 26 porpoises.

BBC News has more on the story HERE - and more footage is available HERE via RTÉ News.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#Dolphin - YouTube user Karl Grabe from Cork has uploaded this wonderful snippet of dolphins vocalising in the Shannon Estuary.

The audio comes from the website for Listening to the Deep Ocean Current (LIDO), which collects a number of live hydrophones collecting the sounds of dolphin activity and other marine wildlife in locations around the world.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan announced on Wednesday the proposal of six new marine sites for designation as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) to protect marine habitats and species listed on the 1992 EU Habitats Directive.



The six sites around the Irish coast represent habitats (sandbanks and reefs) and/or marine wildlife (specifically dolphins and porpoises) identified as insufficiently represented in the list of Irish SACs at the EU Commission's Marine Atlantic Biogeographic Seminar in 2009. These sites are:

  • Blackwater Bank, Co Wexford (Sandbank)
  • West Connacht Coast (Bottlenose dolphin)
  • Hempton’s Turbot Bank, Co Donegal (Sandbank)
  • Rockabill to Dalkey Island, Co Dublin (Reefs and harbour porpoise)
  • Porcupine Bank Canyon, off Kerry (Reefs)
  • South-East Rockall Bank (Reefs)


The designation of marine SACs is scheduled for completion in Europe in 2012, and according to the minister, this list of six additional SACs will constitute Ireland’s contribution to that process. 



In a statement, the department said: "These six SAC sites will protect a range of habitats and species including sandbanks, deep sea coral reefs, dolphins off the Atlantic coast and harbour porpoises found in Dublin Bay.

"These sites are part of a European network of nature conservation sites known as Natura 2000 which was established with the aim of preserving our rich natural heritage for future generations."



Among the new designations are two offshore sites at the Porcupine Bank Canyon and the South East Rockall Bank "contain excellent examples of offshore fauna associated with geogenic reef (ie reef made of rock). Considering the extent of Ireland’s offshore maritime area alongside the value and vulnerability of deep sea biodiversity therein, these two sites represent a modest but highly significant contribution to the Irish SAC network."

Two new inshore areas are being proposed in the west of Ireland to protect the bottlenose dolphin. The department is currently co-funding a multi-annual research programme to further understand the ecology of this species in this coastal region.

Meanwhile, the inshore site off Dublin from Rockabill to Dalkey Island is also being proposed both for the harbour porpoise, and for geogenic reef to address a gap in the SAC network for this habitat type in the northern part of the Irish Sea.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the oil exploration company behind the Dalkey Island Prospect has spoken out over the Rockabill to Dalkey Island designation, claiming it had not been given advance information of the decision.

Providence Resources says maps provided by the department appear to show and overlap between the location for a seismic survey and the new SAC area, which would make any development for resource extraction "extremely problematic".

Last week the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) expressed concern over the potential impact of the 2D seismic survey at Dalkey Island on harbour porpoises in Dublin Bay.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MARINE WILDLIFE - Large numbers of dolphins have been filmed in the Irish Sea off the Welsh coast by wildlife volunteers, as WalesOnline reports.

The conservationists with the Sea Trust charity, based in Pembrokeshire, recorded the "dolphin-fest" from the deck of the Stena Europe ferry en route from Fishguard to Rosslare.

Sea Trust director Cliff Benson confirmed the sighting of "a pod of eight Risso's dolphins, 40-plus common dolphins [and] four porpoises" among others as soon as the ferry headed west of Tusker Rock.

Altogether in the three-hour passage across the Irish Sea, the volunteer surveyors recorded a total of 99 common dolphins, 10 Risso's dolphins and 26 harbour porpoises. "That's not bad for a winter trip," said Benson.

He added that while there are threats to the Irish Sea's cetaceans from scallop dredging and the like, "to date our surveys show this area is teeming with life.

“This is Wales and Ireland we are talking about not Bermuda so get this amount of dolphin and porpoise activity with whales thrown in as well is incredible."

Stena has welcomed Sea Trust volunteers on board its vessels since 2004 to check on cetaceans and other marine wildlife in the waters between Ireland and the UK on a monthly basis.

And as reported previously on Afloat.ie, Seatruck Ferries has also been providing free passage to UK marine wildlife researchers to discover how many dolphins and seabirds make their home in the Irish Sea.

Meanwhile, BBC News reports that a pod of more than 100 bottlenose dolphins was recently spotted off the Isle of Man.

The Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch said it received a number of sightings from the east and west coasts of the island in the northern half of the Irish Sea, reporting a hive of activity.

"The group sizes tend to be relatively ginormous," said Tom Felce of the group. "So if they are here you can't miss them."

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MARINE WILDLIFE - Marine researchers off the coast of Donegal were recently treated to a rare dolphin dance by a 50-strong pod, as IrishCentral reports.

The video above captures the same pod witnessed by researchers with the Irish Basking Shark Project, who were in the area off Inishowen to observe basking sharks in the coastal waters when they were surprised by the gregarious dolphin congregation.

A spokesperson for the project confirmed to IrishCentral that such large groupings of dolphins are unusual for the area, which has welcomed more than its fair share of large marine wildlife over recent months.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, one of the first confirmed sightings of killer whales on the Irish coastline was recorded earlier this summer when a family of orcas from the Scottish Hebrides visited the same waters at the mouth of Lough Swilly.

Meanwhile, WorldIrish reports on the heartwarming tale of a Dutch couple who have bonded with Dingle's most famous non-human resident, Fungie the dolphin.

Jeannine Masset and Rudi Schamhart, who now live in Annascaul, have visited the friendly cetacean for 21 years, and their connection has inspired a fanpage on Facebook that has received responses from Fungie fans around the world.

"Fungie has enriched our lives and we want to give something back to him by offering our friendship and companionship to him," said Jeannine, "and he lets us know over and over again that he really appreciates it."

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MARINE WILDLIFE - The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has called for the extension of Ireland's pioneering whale and dolphin sanctuary throughout European coastal waters.

As the Clare Herald reports, the move comes on the 21st anniversary of the declaration of Irish waters as a sanctuary for cetaceans by then Taoiseach Charles Haughey - whose family gifted his yacht Celtic Mist to the IWDG to assist in its marine wildlife conservation work.

"The sanctuary declaration was unique in Europe and no EU member state had made such an unequivocal statement about the importance of their waters for cetaceans," said the IWDG's Brendan Price.

The sanctuary extends up to 200 nautical miles offshore, covering the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone, and in the two decades since its founding has prompted a greater awareness of and interest in the whales and dolphins that populate Ireland's waters.

The declaration "led to a clearer understanding of the responsibility Ireland had to cetaceans and their habitat including in offshore waters," added Price. "The sanctuary declaration was a precursor to action leading to protection in Irish waters and thus the IWDG considers the sanctuary declaration a success."

Price went on to outline the IWDG's vision for extending this sanctuary throughout European waters.

"There are a number of small marine protected areas in Europe for cetaceans, including harbour porpoise and bottlenose dolphins, and some international sanctuaries such as the Pelagos Sanctuary in the Mediterranean.

"These areas all have important roles to play but cetaceans are mobile marine species and travel large distances. Also, to gain public support for cetacean conservation it may require a larger, more simple concept."

The group intends to promote its proposals within the continent "and encourage like-minded people and organisations to lobby their own government to make such a clear and unequivocal statement on cetacean conservation".

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MARINE WILDLIFE - The famous dolphins of Cardigan Bay have been found to cross the Irish Sea to spend their winter holidays in the Isle of Man, WalesOnline reports.

New evidence uncovered by researchers at the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre (CBMWC) confirms that dolphins from the New Quay area on the Welsh coastline have been photographed over the winter hundreds of miles north by conservationists in Douglas.

As many as eight vacationing cetaceans have been identified by matching markings on their dorsal fins, with one being a regular visitor since 2005.

“We’re really excited about this because it confirms how far the Cardigan Bay dolphins roam in the winter months when we see fewer of them at New Quay – knowledge we need to have if we’re to protect them successfully," said CBMWC science officer Sarah Perry.

Cardigan Bay is home to Europe’s largest population of bottlenose dolphins and is one of the last remaining places in the UK where the species thrives.

WalesOnline has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MARINE WILDLIFE - The rate of cetacean strandings on the Irish coast remains unusually high, according to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG).

The group's Cetacean Stranding Scheme recorded 162 strandings in 2011 which, while numbers do vary from year to year, was 25-30 more than anticipated.

And already this year the numbers are up on last year's 'inexplicable' records for the first quarter.

Some 21 strandings were reported to the IWDG in January alone - the highest ever number recorded for that month, well above the average of 13.

February's figures are even more worrying, with 30 strandings reported this year compared to a five-year average of 11.4.

"As we are now well into 2012, it is clear that the numbers have not returned to what we could have considered to be more normal levels," said the group in a statement.

There is as yet no explanation, whether a single cause or a number of factors, for what might be causing this significant rise in strandings of both live and dead animals, although one curious clue is "the number of carcasses which had washed ashore with tail fluke/fins apparently cut away".

In other IWDG news, the group recently announced the receipt of £2,000 (€2,400) core funding support from Scottish-based veterinary X-ray firm BCF Technology Ltd, which funds a number of charities through its BCF Foundation.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MARINE WILDLIFE - Newstalk reports that gardaí are investigaing the shooting of seals on a Waterford beach.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, fears are mounting of an illegal cull of marine wildlife in the area after a seal and a dolphin were found dead from gunshot wounds within a day of two seals being discovered with similar wounds.

All four animals were found along the same stretch of Tramore Beach late last month.

A spokesperson for the Irish Seal Sanctuacy pointed the finger at an illegal cull allegedly carried out by local fishermen.

The Irish Wildlife Trust has welcomed the Garda investigation into the incidents, and has called on the public to report any relevant information they may have.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MARINE WILDLIFE - The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) will host the 26th annual European Cetacean Society Conference in Galway on the weekend of 24-25 March this year.

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.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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