IWDG Development Plan (2006-2010)

1st Jan 2006 The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) was established in December 1990 and is an All-Ireland group “dedicated to the conservation and better understanding of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) in Irish waters through study, education and interpretation”

In December 1999, the IWDG was granted charitable status (CHY 11163) by the Revenue Commission and became a Limited Company in October 2000. Since 2000, the IWDG has grown into a credible, effective NGO with a growing membership and increasing influence on government policy and actions. In June 2001 the IWDG published its first five-year development plan to cover the period 2001-2005. This was adopted by its membership and it focused the work of the group over this period.

Five year plan: 2001-2005

During this period the IWDG has enjoyed unprecedented growth both in membership, activity and turnover. In 2003 we launched an initiative called ISCOPE, which sought to increase participation in cetacean recording. Due to ISCOPE the rate of the number of strandings and sightings data submitted to the IWDG has increased considerably and a new, more efficient system of data handling and management has been developed. This includes on-line access to the IWDG Strandings and Sightings database through the website www.iwdg.ie. Also on this site are advanced search options enabling interpretation of these data. The IWDG believes this system is a good model for biological data handling and dissemination. The IWDG ferry survey initiative has expanded to include other ships of opportunity (ShOPs) especially access to the states research vessel RV Celtic Explorer.

In addition to developing the stranding and sightings schemes, which are the core work of the IWDG, a large number of publications and resources have been produced. These include poster and postcards produced in collaboration with ENFO for the hugely successful “Flukeprints” exhibition, a laminated identification guide for boat users and the innovative and interactive cetacean identification DVD, which is a unique development in the world of training in cetacean identification and recording.

Research projects have been dominate by the IWDG Large Whale Project which was initiated in 2003. The foundation of this project was the increase in sightings of fin and humpback whales along the south coast of Ireland in recent years. This project attempted to try and determine what is influencing the regular occurrence of these whales along this coastline and try and use this unique opportunity to contribute to our understanding of their ecology in the North Atlantic. This project included the IWDG Humpback whale expedition to Cape Verde Islands off west Africa, a possible breeding ground of Irish humpback whales.

Five year plan: 2006-2010

The actions in our draft new five-year plan are listed in order of priority. We welcome any comments or input into achieving this plan.

1. Strandings

The number of stranded cetaceans reported to the IWDG is increasing steadily with over 100 reported annually since 2003. The IWDG have established a database of all published stranding records with is accessible through their website (www.iwdg.ie). This provides easy access to records for all interested parties. The increase in records undoubtedly reflects greater awareness and interest in cetaceans in general, but the IWDG thinks that many stranded animals still go unreported. Recording stranded animals is important but understanding what is driving these stranding events, and making the most of the research opportunities stranded animals provide, is equally important. The IWDG will strive to build on the existing stranding scheme by developing structures and procedures to collect the appropriate data to interpret stranding records.

Objective – to continue to record cetaceans stranded on the Irish coast and develop structures and procedures to collect the appropriate data to enable correct interpr