Celtic Mist sets sail once more

7th Jul 2016

After a brief spell of downtime, Celtic Mist is setting sail once more to start the final legs of the Sanctuary Tour.  She will be departing from Poolbeg Yacht Club in Dublin tomorrow afternoon with a full crew of IWDG members, and from there will make her way to Drogheda to attend the Irish Maritime Festival.  The next ports of call will be Ardglass followed with a visit to the Isle of Man before beginning passage to Arklow, to attend the Arklow Seabreeze Festival.

Since the 8th of May, Celtic Mist and its various crews have been cruising around Ireland, calling into coastal communities, visiting schools and meeting all who came to visit.   On our travels we have been lucky to meet so many wonderful and welcoming people, eager to learn about the work of the IWDG and to get more involved in our group.  We have been treated to some amazing sightings of cetaceans and other wildlife, experiencing the best of what Ireland's biodiversity-rich waters have to offer.  To date, twenty-four species of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) have been recorded in Irish waters and iconically, a 25th species, a bowhead whale, was recorded this June in Carlingford Lough.  What a very fitting tribute to the 25th anniversary of the sanctuary!

Since June 7th, 2016, it has been 25 years since Ireland’s government declared Irish waters as a whale and dolphin sanctuary. This one action was a seminal moment in the history of whale and dolphin conservation and was a catalyst for the changes to come, the results of which are continuing to the present day.  The government at the time claimed that it was a “clear indication of Ireland’s commitment to contribute to the preservation and protection of these magnificent creatures in their natural environment and to do everything possible to ensure they should not be put in danger of extinction but should be preserved for future generations”. 

The immediate implication of the declaration was to raise awareness of the importance of our waters for cetaceans, and the presence of so many species here.  This was then followed with more government action, including provision of funding which has helped to further our knowledge and better our understanding of the ecology and conservation of the species present.  Support grew for the sanctuary, both nationally and internationally, and it is these achievements that we wish to celebrate today, on the Sanctuary Tour 2016.