Log: FSS Deepwater Survey 2009

13th Dec 2009 Survey Ended: FSS Deepwater Survey 2009

Area: Shelf & Porcupine Slopes.

Agency: Marine Institute

Ship: Celtic Explorer

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13th December 2009

With slightly calmer seas (sea state 5-6) and a moderating swell, four sightings were made today. All sightings were of groups of pilot whales, totalling 28 animals for the day, though more were undoubtedly hidden in the wave clutter.


12th December 2009

More force 7 winds and a sea state to match. Although survey effort was cancelled, a group of 16 pilot whales made a brief appearance beside the ship, surfing in the heavy swell.

11th December 2009

Overnight gales brought viusal survey effort to a halt once again. However a group of 4-5 pilot whales made a brief appearance amongst the swell but were soon lost in the maelstrom.

10th December 2009

This morning we arrived on station to recover a deep water cetacean monitoring device which we deployed in a canyon system on the north slopes of the Porcupine Bank in August of this year. Using an acoustic trigger the Deep C-POD and its mooring was released from the mooring weight and floated back up to the surface (thanks to some help in sorting out the associated gadgetry from Gordon, the ship's Tech.). The Deep C-POD and mooring were recovered on board and the ship got back to its work of conducting the FSS Deep Water Fisheries survey.

The C-POD has been recording the clicks of deep diving whales in these canyons since August as part of an IWDG project to develop passive acoustic monitoring in subsea canyons off the west coast of Ireland, with a special emphasis on monitoring the enigmatic beaked whale species.

A late afternoon visual survey produced a sighting of a single whale blow, though the animal itself was not visible in the heavy swell.

Many thanks to Brendan O'Hea and the team of the Marine Institute, Fisheries Science Services Deep Water Survey for allowing us the time to retrieve this mooring during the current survey.

9th December 2009

This evening we headed west again to take advantage of a few days of calmer weather, though the swells are still large. Put the hydrophone in the water as we steamed and dolphin clicks and whistles were heard late into the night.

7-8th December 2009

Continued to shelter from the gales.

6th December 2009

Today was spent sheltering from the gales, with more gales forecast, it's a waiting game to see when we can get back on survey.

5th December 2009

The day started well with calm seas and a sighting of three whale blows in the distance. The animals were probably fin whales but too distant to make an ID. This was followed an hour later by two pilot whales crossing the bow in increasingly choppy conditions.By mid morning we were well on our way to a gale with sea state 6. However in a repetition of last years survey, as we moved south along the shelf slopes we encountered group after group of large baleen whales. All identified animals were fin whales but who knows... there may have been another few blue whales among the throng.



We may not get a chance to find out however as a series of storms is rapidly apporaching from the southwest, possibly scuppering our chances at conducting further survey effort. Tonight we head for the shelter of land and wait to see if the weather provides any respite.

Totals for the day were 2 pilot whales, 6 fin whales and 18 large baleen whales (most or all of which were thought to be fin whales).

4th December 2009

Today the sea stste was 6-7 all day, with poor visibility. As the weather is due to get worse!!.. some visual survey was attempted but unsurprisingly nothing was seen. More gales are forecast for the ne