Cetaceans on the Frontier Survey 2009 UPDATED 29 August

29th Aug 2009 Follow the daily blog on:


A research team of 12 men and six women are heading out to the edge of the continental shelf on an IWDG/GMIT cetacean survey - the first dedicated cetacean survey ever carried out by Irelands' state research vessels.

The main aim of the survey is to conduct a habitat specific survey of deep diving cetaceans, particularily the little known beaked whale species. These whales, of which five species have been recorded in Ireland, (Sowerby's, Gervais', True's and Cuvier's beaked whales and the northern bottlenose whale), favour deep waters (in excess of 1000m depth) with complex bathymmetry. Little is known of their distribution or biology, and all are listed as 'data deficient' in recent reports on the conservation status of cetaceans in Irish waters. Our focus will be on deep water canyons which splice the slopes of the Porcupine Bank and Shelf Edge to the west of Ireland.

The research team is multi-disciplinary including representatives of the IWDG and GMIT, CMRC, UCC, NPWS, Birdwatch Ireland and SMRU in the UK. We have a long list of objectives. A 24 hour daily survey programme will include:

- a double platform visual cetacean survey

- acoustic cetacean survey using a 400m towed hydrophone

- static acoustic recording of cetaceans in canyon habitats using dipped hydrophones

- static acoustic monitoring of beaked whales in deep water habitats using Deep-C Pods

- visual seabird survey

- survey of jellyfish in offshore habitats

- oceanographic and plankton survey

- cetacean photo-ID and biopsy

- deploying a new M6 weather buoy

- a video survey of benthic habitat in deep water canyons.

The survey will also be filmed by Gabriel Levy of Crossing the Line Films. Daily updates will be posted on the cruise blog so you can follow the survey here on the IWDG website at:


Dave Wall, IWDG

Frontier Cruise Leader