Blasket Island harbour porpoise survey completed

2nd Oct 2007 The Blasket Islands are a candidate Special Area of Conservation for harbour porpoises - one of only two designated in Ireland. The IWDG and GMIT successfully tended to carry out a survey on behalf of the National Pasrks and Wildlife Service. the survey aimed to derive an abundance estimate and carry out acoustic monitoring using TPODs.


During 6 survey days we covered over 400km of track line and recorded 50 groups of harbour porpoises of 205 individuals. we also recorded common dolphins (7 sightings), minke whale (23 sightings) and basking shark (2 sightings).

These data will now be put into DISTANCE software to derive a mean density which can beextrapolated to derive an estimate of the number of porpoises present in the cSAC.

harbour porpoise off the Blasket Islands©Simon Berrow/IWDG

Acoustic monitoring provided two months of monitoring data from Wild Bank and Inishtooskert and reported a high rate of acoustic detections.

This information will be presented to the NPWs who can use it for managementof the cSAC for harbour porpoise.

The IWDG did a piece for RTE news on this survey (link http://www.rte.ie/news/2007/0901/6news_av.html?2284429,null,230

and also see Seascapes:

http://pc.rte.ie/2007/pc/pod-v-310807-25m34s-seascapes.mp3 (go to 22 mintes and 30 seconds)

The IWDG would like to thank Mick Sherran of Blasket Islands Ferry and Tours for his great assistance with this survey.

Simon Berrow

IWDG Co-ordinator

Blasket Island Survey©Mick O'Connell

An early start allowed the IWDG/GMIT team complete the second harbour porpoise survey for the NPWS within the Blasket Island cSAC yesterday (24 July).

Porpoises are generally difficult to spot once the sea state reaches 3 or higher and while the longer term weather forecast for the week was not looking promising, it seemed that there may be a possibility of a lull in the wind early on Tuesday morning.

Blasket Island Survey©Mick O'Connell

The team assembled in Ventry on the Monday evening and Mick Sheeran (owner of the vessel used for the survey, "Blasket Princess") kindly provided us with beds for the night. Luck was with us as when we got up, the morning was calm and dry - which was almost consolation for the fact that it was only 4am!

By just after 6am, we were starting our first line transect within the cSAC with great visibility and a calm sea.

Blasket Island Survey©Mick O'Connell

During the day, five separate groups of porpoises were recorded plus two small groups of common dolphins, over almost 80km of track lines. The information collected during the six proposed surveys (two of which have now been successfully completed) will be used to determine porpoise densities which can be used to extrapolate estimates of abundance (numbers within the cSAC).

Mick O'Connell

Blasket Island porpoise survey undeway

The IWDG in collaboration with Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) have started a survey of harbour porpoises in the Blasket Island cSAC on behalf of the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Harbour porpoise©Emmet Johnston

The contract is to carry out an abundance estimate of porpoises within the candidate Special Area of Conservation (cSAC) and to carry out acoustic monitoring.

The IWDG and GMIT won this contract despite strong competion from other third-level institutes within Ireland and the UK.

The harbour porpoise is on Annex II of the EU Habitats Directive and thus member states must designate SACs for their protection. To date