The Marine Institute welcomes the recent publication of the “Atlas of the Distribution and Relative Abundance of Marine Mammals in Irish Offshore Waters: 2005-2011”, that was launched by Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan on board the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group's (IWDG) Research Vessel Celtic Mist, earlier this week (16th July 2013).
The Atlas marks the culmination of six years of surveys involving more than 1,000 days at sea. It contains a detailed analysis of 21 species of porpoises, dolphins, whales and seals in Irish waters showing seasonal and geographic location. The atlas will provide a valuable data source for marine scientists, marine conservationists and the general public with an interest in marine mammals and their protection.
Minister Deenihan commended the work undertaken to produce the atlas, “This fine atlas is the culmination of many years of work by a large number of people and I’m happy to note that it was produced under a project funded over several years by my department in collaboration with the Marine Institute."
Research Vessels Operations Manager at the Marine Institute, Aodhán FitzGerald commented on the value of using the Marine Institute’s research vessels as one of the platforms, stating “Marine observers have been able to join surveys on board the RV Celtic Explorer and the RV Celtic Voyager for many years. These have been on both dedicated mammal observation surveys as well as working alongside other marine scientists during multidisciplinary surveys, which has provided an excellent opportunity for the observers,” he said.
The Irish waters are home to a diversity of whales and dolphins and the information collected is included in Ireland’s report to the European Commission on marine mammals conservation as part of our obligations under the European Habitats Directive.
Data presented in the Atlas was collected as part of the following research programmes: Marine Mammals and Megafauna in Irish waters – Behaviour, Distribution and habitat use; Irish Scheme for Cetacean Observation and Public Education (ISCOPE I and II); Cetaceans on the Frontier Surveys 2009 and 2010 (MI Cruise No: CE0914 and CE10009); IWDG Ferry Survey Programme and the IWDG Ship Surveys Programme.
The Atlas of the Distribution and Relative Abundance of Marine Mammals in Irish Offshore Waters: 2005-2011 is available as a PDF (19MB) to download at: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/21374026/Marine%20Atlas%20Med%20Res.pdf