Log: 2008 Southwest Herring Acoustic Survey

24th Oct 2008 Survey Ended: 2008 Southwest Herring Acoustic Survey

Area: Southwest and South Coast

Agency: Marine Institute

Ship: R.V. Celtic Explorer

Observer: Dave Wall

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24th October 2008

Having left the Shelter of Smerwick as darkness fell last night we endured a night of heavy rolling as we made our way - beam on to the still heavy swell - to the shelter of Galway Bay. This afternoon we will enter Galway Docks marking the end of the survey.

The trip has covered over 3,000km, with 101.6 hours of cetacean survey time logged. There were 102 sightings of at least four cetacean species, totalling 1,914 individuals.

Download the full survey report.

23rd October 2008

The day was spent in Smerwick Harbour sheltering from the gales. With stong gales forecast for saturday it has been decided to return to port tomorrow, cutting short our survey by 12hrs.

22nd October 2008

Today we returned to the waters off The Old Head of Kinsale and Galley Head... and what a change compared to just 11 days ago. No whale activity this time and just a few groups of common dolphins encountered for the day (totalling 70 animals), feeding under flocks of gannets just to the east of the Old Head.

However the sea always throws up something new... among one group of 40 commons was an anomalously pigmented common dolphin.... almost totally dark, it could easily be mistaken for another species altogether! (see pic with normal common to the left and anomalously pigmented animal to the right).


21st October 2008

A drop in the wind and the fact that we were close to shore meant a decent sea state of 4 all day. Surveying just to the east of Roches point we encountered three groups of common dolphins, totalling 61 animals. Unusually one of the groups contained a female with a young calf (see pic), unusual enough this late in the year.

Common Dolphin mother with young calf. 21/10/08 © Dave Wall GMIT/IWDG

20th October 2008

After a night of gales it took until late afternoon before the seas calmed down enough to attempt a survey. Even so the sea state was 6 decreasing to five eventually. Just one group of 20 common dolphins was encountered... not bad considering the conditions.

19th October 2008

With gales blowing all night, the seas had really begun to build by daybreak. A sea state of 7 meant that an initial attempt at survey (just in case there were big whales about) was aborted by lunchtime. The rest of the day was spent doing paperwork. Despite the conditions 4 groups of common dolphins approached the ship during the day, totalling 50 animals (at least 50 that we could see). More of the same forecast for tomorrow.

It's gettin rough out here... 19/10/08 © Dave Wall GMIT/IWDG

18th October 2008

A windy day today with sea state 4-6 during the day. Most of the day was spent slightly offshore of Tramore (abour 20miles SE of Ram Head). Alot of whale & dolphin activity today with both common dolphins and fin whales feeding on sprat and herring. Totals for the day were 6 groups of common dolphins (including one large group of 350 animals feeding at the surface) and 6 sightings of fin whales totalling no less than 16 individuals. Inshore off Tramore strand things were quieter, with just a single grey seal seen feeding on a flatfish. Weather is due to deterriorate tomorrow with gales forecast.