Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Early Results

Common Dolpin (c) Paddy O'Dwyer - IWDG

Well its finally done, I’ve been looking over the figures and all in all it seems like the whole 
endeavour was a success. I suppose seeing 1,302 dolphins, 116 porpoises, 79 whales and 19 basking sharks isn’t bad for one summer. 

                                                                           (c) Nick Massett - IWDG

The highlight of the whole bursary was on the 28th of July when we came across a humpback feeding with a dozen minkes and hundreds of common dolphins. Other sightings of note were the bottlenose dolphins, we encountered the same group three times and also the rissos dolphins we encountered at the start and twice at the end of the bursary. However every day was enjoyable and presented different challenges. Marine Eco Tours have a great team that were very knowledgeable and were a pleasure to work with. It was very interesting talking to people on the tours and finding out what they did and didn’t know about the cetaceans in Irelands waters. While some knew a great deal others didn’t know much at all, but everyone was keen to learn more.

 Basking Shark (c) Paddy O'Dwyer - IWDG

The study started on June 8th and finished September the 6th.  Starting at the most basic I made it out on 43 separate days over the summer, July was the month with the most days 19 or 44% of all days. This is hardly surprising given the fine weather we had for most of July. A break down for the other months goes June 10 days, August 11 days and September 3 days. In terms of sightings I recorded sightings on 37 of the 43 days an 86% success rate not bad considering the range of conditions we were out in. There was a total of 18 days where sea state was recorded as 4 or more for some part of the day which is hardly ideal. 72% of all sighting occurred in sea state 2 or less with 96% of sightings occurring in sea state 3 or less. 

                                                                Minke Whale (c) Paddy O'Dwyer - IWDG 

Saturday the 20 of July was the day that produced the most sightings with 11. The most common month for sightings was July with 93 sightings or 54% of the total sightings, this is hardly surprising given that we were out on more days. However there was a clear difference between June and August despite getting out on more days in August there were far less sightings than in June. June had 50 or 29% of sightings while August had 23 or 13% of sightings, September produced 6 sightings not bad for only 3 days.

                                                          Rissos Dolpin (c) Paddy O'Dwyer - IWDG

The most commonly sighted species was unsurprisingly the harbour porpoise with 42% of all sightings, this was followed by minke whales 29% and common dolphins 18%. However when it comes to the numbers sighted for each species the common dolphins win by a landslide with 81% of the total animals seen. This is mainly due to a few days where there hundreds of them in the bay. Even the harbour porpoises the most frequently seen animal could only manage 8% of the individual animals seen. Aside from all this I managed to capture id shots of bottlenose dolphins, rissos dolphins a minke whale and basking sharks. 

I’ve included the table below as a breakdown of sightings over the project. I’m currently working up the report and should be able to put up some distribution maps next week as well as any addition information that I’ve probably left out.

                                              Bottlenosed Dolpin (c) Paddy O'Dwyer - IWDG

Again I’d like to thank the Irish whale and Dolphin Group for the opportunity, Simon, Joanne and Nick for all their support and Mick, Britta and Billy from Marine Eco Tours who made it a productive and enjoyable summer.

Speceis Sightings No of individuals  Group range June  July   August September
Bottlenose dolphins 3 40 20-8 - - 3 -
Common Dolphin 31 1230 300-5 1 18 11 1
Humpback Whale 1 1 1-1 1 - -
Harbour porpoise 73 116 5-1 21 41 9 2
Minke whale  50 78 12-1 22 27 0 1
Rissos Dolphin  3 32 12-8 1 - - 2
Basking Shark  11 19 5-1 5 6 - -
Total 172 1516 - 50 93 23 6

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