Log: NUIG Climate Change Survey

22nd Jun 2009 Survey Ended: NUIG Climate Change Survey

Area: Porcupine Bank & Seabight.

Agency: NUI Galway / Marine Institute

Ship: Celtic Explorer

Observer: Dave Wall

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22nd June 2009

This morning we docked in Killybegs at 07:00.

Download the full survey report.

21st June 2009

Despite good survey conditions (sea state 4, decreasing to 2 by late evening) there was little activity as the ship steamed north past the Mayo coastline. A single large dolphin (probably bottlenose) made a concerted effort to get as far away from us as possible, while later in the afternoon a distant view of a breaching dolphin (probably a common dolphin) was as close as we got to a sighting.

By morning we will be alongside in Killybegs, marking the end of the survey.

20th June 2009

A sea state of 4 and good visibility today as we steamed across the northwestern corner of the Porcupine Bank. The first sighting of the day was of a single grey seal, a long way offshore and swimming west. A single fin whale followed some hours later, with the final sighting of a pod of 17 pilot whales as we approached a canyon system on the North Slopes of the Porcupine Bank.

19th June 2009

Sea state of 4-5 with a reduced swell. The morning found us on the western slopes of the Porcupine Bank. First sighting of the day was two groups of whales. The larger group of 5-6 animals (probably fin whales) appeared to head west and out of sight. The other group of 2 approached to within 400m of the ship and were confirmed as fin whales.

During the day we travelled north along the west slopes of the Porcupine. The next encounter was a brief glimpse of 2 pilot whales as we crossed a deep-water canyon. Later we came across a feeding group of 10 Atlantic White-sided dolphins and this was followed by another two whale blows - again probably fin whales but too distant to confirm.

18th June 2009

Sea state of 6 with a 3-4 meter swell meant a day in the office. No sightings.

17th June 2009

Sea state of 5 continued. No sightings of cetaceans during survey effort, though the Captain reported seeing a single cetacean off the starboard beam. After discussion it was considered possible that it was a minke whale.

16th June 2009

Sea state of 4-5 made for more tricky survey conditions. No sightings of cetaceans.

15th June 2009

A sea state of 4-5 made for tricky survey conditions, but at least the swell was moderate. A sunny day with occassional showers. We steamed south-west across the Celtic Shelf, but as with our last few surveys, this area again proved quiet and no sightings were made.

Tomorrow we will make our way west, down the slopes of the continental shelf and into the Porcupine Seabight. [Again for a guide to names & places: click here for the real map of Ireland - PDF 250kb].

14th June 2009

We departed Horgan's Quay in Cork at 19:00. As we sailed out of Cobh in calm seas, keen sets of eyes were scanning the waters off Roche's Point for the semi-resident bottlenose dolphins but alas no-one was home today... No sightings before nightfall.

This may be a pictureless blog as my Canon EOS camera died two days before departure (it's currently in camera hospital) - I have brought my Canon camcorder (which is just a bit sick) and will do my best to get some footage!

Dave Wall