Happy 21st Birthday to the IWDG

1st Dec 2011 The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group is 21 years old today. It is a testament to the people and supporters of the IWDG that we have achieved this landmark. To mark the occasion we have produced a review document with personal reflections on the work of the IWDG. We also had a fantastic evening on 19 November in Malahide, Co Dublin celebrating, and thanking, those people who formed the IWDG and gave it such a strong foundation. It is important to look back in order to look forward.

So now it is time to look ahead to the next 21 years. The IWDG are no doubt very successful and effective at achieving its main, core activity, namely to co-ordinate All-Ireland cetacean stranding and sighting schemes. Recent funding from the National Parks and Wildlife Service in the Republic and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency in Northern Ireland, demonstrates that we are the competent body on this island to record whales, dolphins and porpoise. Rarely a week goes by without something interesting, important or of great relevance, coming to our attention from one of these schemes.

The challenge to the IWDG is to make sure these schemes are supported and that we use the data to improve our understanding of whales, dolphins and porpoise in Ireland. We must then use this understanding to protect individuals, populations and their habitats. To achieve this we need to:

• encourage more people to get involved in the work of the IWDG

• increase membership of the IWDG

• improve ways of utilizing the information we have towards conservation initiatives

Over the last year there has been a lot of work, driven by our Board of Directors (contact directors@iwdg.ie), ensuring the structure of the IWDG is more inclusive and accountable and that IWDG is fully compliant with its' legal obligations. As part of this process we have advertised all positions we wish to fill by service providers and we will continue to advertise contracts and other opportunities with the IWDG on our website. The website is currently being upgraded and will be live soon.

Looking ahead into the near future, the refitting and running of the Celtic Mist is the most exciting and challenging development. She really is a most robust and fine vessel, which will provide superb opportunities for the IWDG. However we need to be able to keep her on the water, taking people out to sea and sharing our knowledge and excitement of the sea around Ireland and those inhabitants of it. Please support our fundraising effort and buy a Celtic Mist Gift Certificate (see www.rvcelticmist.ie) or write to deirdre@rvcelticmist.ie.

The IWDG is only as strong and active as its members. For years we have constantly achieved high standards of recording, publications, awareness raising and dissemination of information, but we are too reliant on relatively few people.

For those reading and who are not members, please become a member and get involved with the IWDG and help us to look forward to the next 21 years.

Dr Simon Berrow


Irish Whale and Dolphin Group

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