IWDG Sligo schools visit a great success

11th Oct 2006 After the recent sperm whale stranding in Strandhill, the IWDG with support from the Heritage- In- Schools Scheme and Sligo County Council visited 14 schools.

As a result of an extremely positive response to an initial “Sperm whale” fact sheet, sent out by Sligo County Council's Environmental Awareness Officer, Sharon Eastwood, it was decided that the appropriate follow up was a concerted blitz of local primary schools in the Sligo area.

Two “Heritage Specialists”, Pádraig Whooley and Mike O' Connell between them visited 13 primary schools, one secondary school and carried out two evening talks in Sligo IT and Rosses Point between 2nd-6th October. In total there were 36 school workshops delivered, during which c1,200 students had a unique opportunity to learn more about whales and dolphins in Irish waters and their marine environment.

A big thank you to all the following:

• The Sligo school principals, teachers and students

• The Environment (Sharon Eastwood) and Heritage Officers (Siobhan Ryan) of Sligo Co. Co. for their organizational and financial support.

•Dr Don Cotton, Sligo IT & IWDG for providing accommodation during the week

The latest on the 14m Sperm whale is that its carcass is currently decomposing on Inismurray Island, where local authorities have successfully removed both lower jawbones and at least 12 of the whale's teeth. Unfortunately one of the jawbones is broken in several places, but the other is intact. The hope is that these artifacts will form part of a public display in Sligo, where the story of the Strandhill Sperm whale can be retold and no doubt will become part of local lore.

Pádraig Whooley