Daily offshore survey reports by Dave Wall..Updated21st Oct 2009 Survey: FSS Celtic Sea Acoustic Survey 2009
Area: South and Southwest Shelf.
Agency: Marine Institute
Ship: Celtic Explorer
21st October 2009
The identity of the distant whale remains a mystery as, though we spent the day just east of Ram Head (where the whale was seen last night) the weather was blowing a gale and the sea state foiled all attempts at survey effort.
20th October 2009
Sea state of 4-5 with a heavy swell as we surveyed south of Tramore, Co. Waterford. Despite lots of fish, there was no dolphin or whale activity in the area. Then at dusk a single blow from a large whale was sighted to the west...
19th October 2009
Conditions were blustery at dawn, with a sea state of 5-6 and it only got worse. By lunchtime the wind was blowing 30knots+, it was time to give up and retire to the office. No cetaceans seen.
18th October 2009
Sea state deterriorated overnight and was 4-5 all day. We spent the day surveying offshore, south of Kilmore Quay before moving in towards the Saltees in the late afternoon. Despite there being sprat in the area, no sightings were made.
17th October 2009
Despite calm seas and blue skies there was no cetaceous activity today as we surveyed over the Nymphe Bank, south of Waterford.
16th October 2009
A slight breeze today brought the sea conditions up to 4 but with no swell and overcast skies, survey conditions were good. Unfortunatley it was very quiet and just two small goups of common dolphins were encountered, totalling 6 animals including a small calf.
15th October 2009
The calm conditions continued as we surveyed offshore, south of Youghal, Co. Cork. Cetacean activity was quieter than yesterday with just the occassional group of common dolphins feeding in the glassy seas. Two fin whales were sighted logging at the surface in the afternoon, barely moving out of the way as the ship passed by. A couple of minke whales were also sighted heading south. All the activity was a long way from land, about 50miles south... so don't strain yerselves trying to spot them with a scope from Ardmore or Knockadoon Head!
14th October 2009
Another flat calm and overcast day made for ideal viewing conditions. We surveyed offshore just to the west of the Kinsale gas platforms.Most of the action was to the south of the gas platforms with groups of feeding common dolphins spread over a wide area. Among them were a number of fin whales either alone or in pairs. To the south and north of the platforms solitary minke whales were also to be seen feeding. Totals for the day were 7 sightings of large groups of common dolphin (279 animals), 3 sightings of fin whales (5 animals), 6 sightings of minke whales (6 animals) and 4 sightings of distant, unidentified dolphins, which were probably common dolphins (74 animals).
13th October 2009
Another flat calm day off the south coast, overcast with ideal survey conditions. The day started quiet enough but by late morning, as we headed offshore south of the Old Head of Kinsale, we began to pick up common dolphins. The fishing fleet were still in evidence with a dozen boats, or more, fishing away under the watchful eye of our colleagues on board the Irish Air Corps CASA surviellance plane.
It was near a pair of trawlers that I detected the prominent fin of a Risso's dolphin, a single large animal logging on the surface seemed to be alone. In the late afternoon a glance to the east revealed smoke on the horizon!... a look through the binoculars showed, not smoke, but the tall columnar blow of a large whale showing dark against the sky... then another... and another. The 'blow-show' went on for 4-5 minutes with 4-5 blows shooting up at a time and indicating t