Harbour Porpoise in River Bann, Co. Derry..Update 2

16th Aug 2008 Report III – 16/08/08

NIEA monitoring of the porpoise continued in Coleraine from 7am on Saturday morning, amid torrential rain and sodden street cleaners. The animal was sighted immediately, surfacing directly beneath the foot bridge and remaining within a small 10m channel. Showing similar behaviour to the previous day, it continued to angle itself upstream, surfacing frequently and enabling further digital images to be captured.

In terms of monitoring the physical condition of the animal, digital cameras have proven themselves to be valuable tools. Hundreds of images have been obtained and studied for signs for injury, weight loss etc. Thankfully, its unusual surroundings, the photographs did not reveal anything to be concerned about with no indications of the cetacean losing weight (a dip behind the dorsal fin) or having incurred an injury. Its surfacing behaviour, too, remained energetic and typical of porpoises.

The final sighting was made around 5pm on Saturday evening, with no further reports being received by NIEA or the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group since then.

This has been an exceptional opportunity to study the behaviour of these elusive marine mammals up close without risk of disturbance. For many of the public it has been their first encounter with this special creature – for the rest of us, we have been granted a unique opportunity to capture images for future educational work. Some of the images taken by colleagues are among the strongest yet captured for this species in Irish waters.

Gary Burrows

Report II, 15/08/08

The River Bann Harbour porpoise remains in the area directly beneath and just downstream from Old Coleraine bridge.

The following are the facts to date:

• It appears to be feeding, both fish and an eel reported as seen caught by porpoise.

• NIEA are continuing to monitor events this morning.

• Its behaviour is relaxed, surfacing, but with none of the intensive surface rushing seen on Tuesday.

• It is showing no signs of distress.

• Advice from fisheries colleagues is that the considerable freshwater flow from the river will have displaced fish further downstream to here, so there are likely to be plenty of salmon, roach, flounder, eels etc present in that stretch of river.

• Many images taken have been analysed for physical signs of trouble – no apparent weight loss, no dip behind dorsal, no injuries etc

• Surfacing is upright, no listing etc

This is an exceptional opportunity to view such an elusive animal up close. NIEA recommend public to watch respectfully from bridge and take great care if travelling by boat under the navigable portion of bridge over weekend

Gary Burrows, NIEA

Report II, 14/08/08

The IWDG have been receiving reports of a harbour porpoise behaving erratically upriver in the River Bann.

Yesterday afternoon, Gary Burrows, Coastal and Marine Communications Officer with the Biodiversity Unit at the Northern Ireland Environment Agency responded to reports of an unusual sighting of a harbour porpoise in the River Bann. He has been monitoring the situation since around 2pm.

He observed the animal apparently lunge-feeding and it appeared active and healthy, albeit in an unusual location.

Today 14/08/08 (Thursday) the po

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