IWDG Conservation and Research Bursary

14th Jun 2013

The Conservation and Research Bursary advertised to IWDG members was awarded to Paddy O'Dwyer.  This bursary is a collaboration with Mick Sheeran of Blasket Islands Eco Marine Tours who operates a tour boat around the Blasket Islands, Co Kerry.

The idea for this collaboration came from Mick who is a corporate member of the IWDG. Mick has been a very good supporter of the IWDG over the years and has offered a platform to the IWDG for a variety of research and monitoring projects. Mick was concerned that he was not making the most of the high number of cetacean sightings made during his trips and more could be done including photo-id, plankton sampling and behavioural observations.

The IWDG think Mick provides one of the best platforms in Ireland for this type of research as he sails most days in the summer and the Blasket Islands are very rich with cetaceans, basking sharks and even turtles and sunfish. It is the best site to record minke whales in Ireland and also has high encounter rates with harbor porpoise common dolphins, occasionally bottlenose dolphins and more recently humpback whales and Risso’s dolphins. It is also one of only three Special Areas of Conservation for harbour porpoise in Ireland and IWDG are keen to explore the use of platforms of opportunities to monitor harbour porpoise within an SAC.

Mick will benefit from an improved relationship with the IWDG and exposing his clients to research and conservation. Tourists like to meet a knowledgeable guide who is able to talk knowledgeably about cetacean conservation and monitoring and we hope these tourists will join the IWDG if aware of the work of the IWDG. This initiative supports the IWDG membership drive.

Paddy O'Dwyer is a recent graduate of the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology where he graduated with a degree in Applied Freshwater and Marine Biology. He has been a member of the IWDG for a number of years and has contributed to a number of IWDG projects including photo-id and biopsy sampling of humpback whales in the Blaskets. He lives in west Kerry and has very good local knowledge.

Paddy will be updating his blog regularly during the summer: http://blasketblog.blogspot.ie/