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Displaying items by tag: seals

Two juvenile seals named Ariel and Merida after the Disney princesses are part of a novel marine research project using the latest technology to record and understand harbour seals’ behaviour.

In a first for Northern Ireland, the Exploris Aquarium in Portaferry, Co Down has teamed up with University College Cork as part of the EU-funded, Loughs Agency-led SeaMonitor project to tag the female rehabilitated seals prior to their release from Knockinelder Beach in Co Down yesterday (Sunday 17 November).

Although seal pups have been rehabilitated and released by Exploris since 1989, this is the first time they have been tracked following release to give scientists a better understanding of how they fair post-release.

‘Although seal pups have been rehabilitated by Exploris since 1989, this is the first time they have been tracked following release’

Dr Mark Jessop, lead scientist from UCC, said: “We use state-of-the-art tags glued to the seals’ fur which drop off naturally during the seal’s annual moult, but until then provide information on where the seals are going as well as their dive behaviour.

“This gives us unique insights into post-rehabilitation survival and how juvenile seals learn to forage successfully in the wild.”

It is hoped that the data will be used to inform better management and protection for harbour seals.

The release of the two seals marks the first this season from Exploris Aquarium, NI’s only seal rehabilitation facility — with more releases to come.

“On average we take in about two dozen seals every year,” said Exploris curator, Peter Williams. “Seals are a protected species here in the UK and Europe so at Exploris we take in seal pups from all over the Northern Irish coast that have succumb to illness or have been affected by human interference and as a result abandoned by their mothers.”

Loughs Agency chief executive Sharon McMahon added: “This is an especially exciting time as the seals are the first species to be monitored since the project launched earlier this year.

“The agency is proud to be leading the way alongside expert colleagues from statutory and academic institutions and a range of stakeholders that will ultimately produce dynamic management plans for some of our most important and vulnerable species.”

‘These achievements ensure the safeguarding of our shared marine environment’

Discussing the importance of this work, Gina McIntyre, CEO of the Special EU Programmes Body, said: “I’m delighted to hear about the progress of this pioneering EU INTERREG cross-border project, which has seen a tremendous amount of development in such a short space of time.

“These achievements ensure the safeguarding of our shared marine environment and continue the necessary conservation work to protect priority species and habitats just like Ariel and Merida.

“The significant progress so far can be attributed to the strong cross-border partnership, combined with innovative marine technology. The expertise and determination of SeaMonitor’s project partners is helping push the boundaries of marine research in the seas not only around Northern Ireland, but in Ireland and Western Scotland.”

The work is part of SeaMonitor — a unique marine research project, the first of its kind in Europe, studying the seas around Ireland, Western Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The project is led by the Loughs Agency and supported by another eight leading marine research institutions, using innovative marine species tracking technology to better understand and protect vulnerable marine life in our oceans.

Published in Marine Science

Leitrim angler Bernard Kilkenny claimed the World Cup in trout fly angling on Lough Mask last weekend, as Derek Evans notes in today’s Irish Times.

His five trout at 5.73lb secured the title — as well as a boat with 15HP outboard, and a new rod and reel — in what was “the most drawn-out in the 63 years of the championships”, with poor weather meaning three attempts over a whole month were required.

Elsewhere, two anglers caused a headache for marine wildlife lovers in Wicklow yesterday (Sunday 8 September) when they were spotted fishing just meters from a protected seal colony.

According to Wicklow News, the men had ignored signs warning away from the seals, as well as the pleas of several onlookers, but left the area after they were spoken to by gardaí.

It is recommended that the public stay at least 100 metres away from seals as they enter their breeding season and seek safe space on land from September to the end of the year.

Published in Angling

#MarineWildlife - Islanders’ attempts to rescue a seal pup stranded on Achill in Co Mayo recently were sadly not successful.

But the incident has galvanised a local group set up amid growing concerns over marine wildlife strandings, who will train with a team from Seal Rescue Ireland in January on potential lifesaving measures, as the Mayo News reports.

“We’re getting these trainers down just so people know what to do in these situations,” said Achill resident Sorsha Kennedy. “It’s okay for them to be on the shore, they may just be resting, but people don’t know that.”

Kennedy was part of a group that attempted to rescue a baby seal washed up on rocks at Keel Beach in late November.

The pup unfortunately died in transit to Seal Rescue Ireland’s base across the country in Courtown.

“It’s a terribly long stressful journey for an animal already in distress,“ said John Nikolai, who discovered the seal while walking his dog. “It’s such a pity there isn’t another sanctuary closer in the west.”

The Mayo News has more on the story, while Afloat.ie reported recently on other seal rescue efforts around the Irish coast.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Two common seals were released off the North Coast last week after being nursed back to health at the Exploris aquarium in Portaferry.

According to The Irish News, the seals named Hans and Albert had been with the sanctuary since the summer, when they arrived with various injuries.

However, by September both had put on weight and were eating by themselves, prompting Exploris staff to plan for their eventual release at Ballintoy Harbour last Wednesday (29 November).

In a techy twist, Hans and Albert have been microchipped so their progress can be monitored from shore over the next few weeks and months.

Also in the care of Exploris staff is a baby seal rescued from a rocky outcrop off Bangor in Belfast Lough in late October.

BBC News has video of the tiny white seal pup, which was suspected to have an injured hip and damaged flipper likely suffered during Storm Ophelia.

Another presumed victim of the stormy weather was a seal recovered from Dun Laoghaire’s East Pier on Hallowe’en.

The Irish Times reports that the marine mammal had sustained injuries to its face and rear flipper, but was said to be doing well in the care of volunteers from the Courtown Seal Rescue Centre in Co Wexford.

More recently, a number of stranded dolphins were successfully returned to the water off Achill Island by locals and volunteers on Tuesday 21 November.

Four common dolphins were reflected from Keem Beach, though a fifth was found dead on nearby rocks. The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) removed the carcass to determine its cause of death, as the Mayo News reports.

Back on the North Coast, BelfastLive says a six-metre whale carcass surprised locals at Runkerry Strand near Portballintrae on 24 November.

The find came just weeks after a much larger fin whale carcass was found on Arranmore off the Donegal coast, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - The Seal Rescue Centre in Courtown is appealing for new sponsors to fund supplies for the marine wildlife in its care, as the Gorey Guardian reports.

The sanctuary recently took on its first sponsor in Gorey’s Amber Springs Hotel, which now has its name displayed over one of the 12 kennels available.

More than 60 seals are being kept at the Co Wexford centre that has a busy winter period taking in rescued seals and seal pups, the latest of them brought in from Clogherhead in Co Louth at the end of January.

But the Seal Rescue Centre is also celebrating successful releases back into the wild of seals it has treated — like Nala, an orphaned seal found in distress at Union Hall in West Cork last October, according to the Southern Star.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Is cannibalism among seals to blame for deaths of the marine mammals recorded on Ireland’s shores?

That’s one reason suggested by researchers in the latest report from the Irish Seal Sanctuary’s seal death database, according to the Irish Examiner.

While further research is required, recent studies at UCD indicate that some injuries previously attributed to boat propellers may be consistent with attacks on younger seals by older bulls.

Fishing activity is also suspected in some of the more than 100 carcasses recorded in the two years before May 2016 — particularly over the winter months in Waterford and Wexford, though there is no confirmed connection to the concurrent inshore fishery.

The sanctuary’s database relies on public contributions, with the largest number of seal carcasses reported in Dublin, followed by Cork, Wexford and Waterford.

In related news, the Dublin InQuirer reports on the uneasy relationship between dog walkers on Bull Island and the reserve’s resident seal colonies, which conservationists argue are often disturbed by pets running loose.

Published in Marine Wildlife
Tagged under

#MarineWildlife - The Wicklow People reports that a six-week-old common seal is being treated for suspected stab wounds after being found in “very shape” by people walking on Arklow’s South Beach yesterday morning (Friday 18 November).

The incident is the second in three weeks in the Arklow area to involve a seal with wounds thought to have been caused by human hands. More on this story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - Independent.ie has video of a seal pup being rescued by quick-thinking beachgoers in Co Down this week.

Aaron McLoughlin realised he had no phone signal to call for assistance when he and his wife Gemma and her family found the young seal stranded on the sand.

So he and his father-in-law David Lamont improvised a sling to lift the juvenile marine mammal out of danger and back into the water, as you can see in the clip below:

Published in Marine Wildlife
Tagged under

#MarineWildlife - Months after she was found on the streets of Galway, the seal pup named Poison Ivy has returned to the sea at Galway Bay with a group of fellow rescued seals.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Ivy was no more than three weeks old when she was picked up by council workers on a Salthill footpath last December.

Though seriously ill, she fought her way back to health under the watchful eye of the staff at Seal Rescue Ireland in Wexford, who gave her a name in keeping with their comic-book theme.

But it was back to Salthill she went this past weekend when Ivy was released into the wild at Ladies Beach, according to Galway Bay FM.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - A seriously ill seal pup found on the streets of Galway last December is just weeks away from release back into the wild.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the tiny seal no more than three weeks old was found by Galway City Council workers on a footpath in Salthill.

After emergency care by local vets and wildlife volunteers, the pup was moved to the Seal Rescue Ireland sanctuary in Wexford, whose staff kept with their comic-book theme by naming her Poison Ivy.

It was touch and go for the little one in the weeks and months that followed, though as The Dodo reports, Poison Ivy is now all grown up and fighting fit, enjoying the company of the marine wildlife sanctuary's other young seals.



But it's bath time that the little attention seeker lives for, as this video shows.



The Dodo has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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