Record Year for the IWDG Recording Schemes1st Jan 2012 The last year has proved to be a record year for cetacean recording by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group. A total of 160 stranding and 1565 sighting records have been received by end of year. These totals are likely to increase a little as stragglers filter in, but this is by far the highest total for the number of stranding records and the third highest total for sighting records since the IWDG recording schemes were established in 1991.
The high of 160 stranding records compares to only 92 received in 2010 which was very low compared to previous years where between 135 and 147 records had been received. We thought at the time the 2010 total was unusually low and 2011 has shown this to be the case. Stranding records in 2011 were characterised by a very high peak of common dolphin strandings during February and a high number of porpoise strandings during the winter.
Sighting records were around 100 fewer than last year's record of 1694 records and 1629 in 2007, but given the exceptional poor sea conditions during the autumn and winter this year's total is very impressive.
The performance of these recording schemes is testament to the hard work and dedication of our recording scheme co-ordinators: Mick O'Connell and Pádraig Whooley. This year the stranding scheme was funded by the National Parks and Wildlife Service and funding from the Heritage Council enabled us to supply the 60+ stranding recorders with a recording kit to assist them in their work. These schemes are the backbone of the IWDG and provide the information required to support conservation actions and policies and identify important habitats and times of year for cetaceans inshore.
Since Christmas we have started work on preparing Celtic Mist for its refit. A hardy band of volunteers including Cathal Blunnie, Eibhir Mulqueen, Barry McGovern, Karoyl Torok, Joe Hassett and Randall Counihan braved the torrential rain and stiff winds to erect scaffolding around the vessel.
The refit of Celtic Mist will be a major effort during the first 4 or 5 months of 2012 but will be a fantastic resource for the IWDG once re-launched.
The IWDG would like to wish all its members and supporters a Happy New Year and thank them for their support. There are plenty more challenges for us and mysteries waiting to be unravelled in 2012. We hope you will continue to support the IWDG and get involved in all our schemes and projects.
Dr Simon Berrow