Life on the Edge - Exploring Irelands Canyons

9th Dec 2015

Outward Cruise: Dates 28th of August to September 7th Castletownbere (West Cork, Ireland) to Camaret (Brittany, France)

Return Cruise: September 8th to 18th Camaret (Brittany) to Castletownbere (West Cork).

You are invited to join a training cruise recording cetacean activity principally in the Irish EEZ from West Cork to Brittany where the shelf edge is targeted from Ireland to France on Jessy of Adrigole a 36ft yacht (Jessy).

Participants will receive instructions on how to record and recognise sightings prior to joining and these will be covered again on start up and reinforced during the survey.  This data will be submitted to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group database and used for future publications on the distribution of cetaceans in Irish waters.  Data from UK and French waters will be made available to relevant authorities in these jurisdictions. Anyone with a strong interest in acoustics and some previous knowledge should let us know beforehand so we can accommodate this as well.   Otherwise a basic introduction to acoustics will be included with instruction. This is an opportunity to gain experience of a wide variety of cetaceans in a natural setting with minimal or no disturbance and will enhance the detection and behavioural analysis of marine mammal observers and acoustics operators.  Sailing instruction will be provided as necessary but no qualifications will be obtained.  Sailing time can be logged for experience if required.  No prior experience of sailing, or marine mammals is required but some prior experience or interest is typical of all previous crews members.  This will be the fifth year of operation but the first time exploring the rarely visited canyon systems off the South West of Ireland where it is expected beaked, sperm and pilot whales may be encountered among others .      

The objective for the entire crew is to gather as much sightings and acoustic data on species encountered as possible, along the shelf edge, in sea states of 3 or less.  While 10 days are allowed, sailing a direct crossing from West Cork to Brittany can very comfortably be undertaken in two days.  Participants should expect to spend about 5 to 7 days at sea depending on weather and will be required to assist in sailing the vessel, recording sightings and other crewing duties.  While it is intended to avoid rough weather this can never be guaranteed.  Night time sailing will be required and crew will sleep in shifts at night.  While time at sea is not luxurious, it is hoped to record a large variety and number of species and this is an opportunity for participants to see the greatest variety and abundance that the Irish and French (and UK) waters have to offer.  Time on the shelf edge will be determined by weather and typically the Celtic Sea will see calmer weather and we will have to  less worthwhile as you miss many animals.  Typically the end of August and beginning of September see periods of settled weather so we will utilise these to cover track lines on the shelf edge.

Cost for joining the crew on this survey will be €1280 for either outward or return journey.  Food on board will be provided, although when in port crew will buy their own meals ashore typically.  We may spend days in port while waiting for good weather and will hope to arrive in port before appointed final date. Participants will be expected to organise their own travel to and from West Cork/Brittany but we will assist in any way we can.  Further details are available on request by email to mmo@iwdg.ie .