Celtic Mist surveys the waters off north Kerry

Our scientific programme on Celtic Mist is still in full force, with leg 11 (already!) sailing from Fenit to Dingle. Our fantastic crew enjoyed sightings of marine mammals, such as common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, many grey seals around the Blasket Islands, and even a minke whale in Dingle bay. We also had sightings of breaching tunas, a sunfish and diving gannets feeding with common dolphins. We really appreciated watching wildlife in action! One of the other highlights of the week was our funny nights teasing each other while playing board games. This week, we had onboard our own famous writer, Adelaide, a funny ironical young woman who offered to write out weekly blog. Here is her narrative of this great week on Celtic Mist (and at the end, a bonus we really wanted to share with you!) – Hélène, Celtic Mist Biologist

Day one of Leg 11 on the Celtic Mist saw the crew arriving on Saturday the 12th of August at Fenit to begin their journey. We had some early sightings when assistant marine biologist Emer spotted the Fenit three bow riding a rib used for sea tours from land. Whilst myself and our other crew member Donal contemplated whether or not this counted towards the overall count of sightings since we had yet to step foot in the boat, skipper Mick and the remainder of the crew, Pearse, Paul and Pat, arrived in Fenit. The rest of the day went by getting to know one another on the Celtic Mist, and preparing for the following day, which we knew would be spent unfortunately still in the Marina due to difficult weather conditions.

It was on the Sunday that we went through drills, stocked the galley and Paul set us up for a week of high quality cooking with a great dinner of pork, veg and potatoes. It was also prior to setting out that, during marine biologist Hélène’s presentation, First Mate Pearse made the promise on her behalf that we would see at least five fin whales. As light-hearted as this was we did spend the rest of the leg torturing Hélène with mentions of this promise. It was also during this presentation that Emer impressed us all with her knowledge on species of cetaceans by getting 5/5 on the illustrations of potential species on one of Hélène’s slides, setting us up for a successful week with such astute attention to recognising the mammals.

The crew was excited to finally set sail on Monday morning, and after some rather exhilarating rope throwing attempts while trying to moor to refuel, we were ready to get to open waters. Throughout the day we were joined by many groups of bottlenose dolphins who swam alongside us as we made our way by the Maherees to Brandon where we would stay for the night. Sightings were difficult with the weather still being far from ideal and white caps were spread as far as the eye could see. This made it even harder to differentiate what was a splash of the waves and what was an actual marine mammal.

Monday night also revealed to us a great evil that had been walking, talking and working among us. Gathered around the table to play a round of Quirkle, a game that can only be described as the unexpectedly lovable child of scrabble and Uno, the crew discovered to our great horror the competitive and sly gameplay of First Mate Pearse who was both relentless and apathetic in his pursuit of victory. Only one man could assuage the barrage of entirely innocuous suffering put upon the crew by Pearse. Our saving grace, Paul, who made sure to humble Pearse at each turn and did so without even breaking a sweat. His thankless efforts ensured a sound night of sleep for the crew despite the roll of the boat on the waves.













Day four held more promise with calmer conditions and more sun. This was bad news for me as I neglectfully forgot to reapply my suncream throughout the day, leaving my hands and face with a burn born of my own stupidity though, I prefer to describe it as a gentle rouge. Despite this, the weather was cause for celebration as it was far better for potential sightings as we sailed by Brandon Creek and studiously followed Hélène’s beloved “zigzag” pattern to try get the most coverage of the area. Tuesday seemed to swap bottlenose dolphins out for the smaller and more agile common dolphins as we encountered multiple pods throughout the day. We were even lucky enough to get to see plenty of young travelling in the groups who were just as curious about us as we were about them, and came to bow ride the Celtic Mist.

After a few hours on the water Paul spotted a dorsal fin that was too rounded and tall to belong to any dolphin we had seen so far and so we adjusted course to get closer. Hélène and Emer realised as we drew near that we had found some ocean sunfish which was an exciting find for the whole crew. Sailing on, we also encountered groups of tuna who performed some impressive leaps from the water as we passed them by. After another eventful day at sea we stopped in Smerwick where some of us braved the waters for a quick swim, and after climbing back on board, via the only option which is an excruciating workout up the rope ladder, had hot chocolate and cheese on the deck with the rest of the crew as the sun went down.













Day five had the best conditions for sightings by far and so we woke up to set sail two hours earlier than the previous days. My inability to deal with early mornings manifested itself as I groggily came up on deck and was promptly sent back down by Mick to get my life jacket which I had forgotten while dealing with the very personal and heartbreaking loss of my fat cosier bunk. The abrasive cold didn’t last long and sailing along the calm waters among the Blaskets was enough to wake me up. Thanks to the sunny and beautiful conditions of the day the crew felt more enthusiasm than before, removing our heavier jackets and waterproofs, feeling hopeful for a whale sighting. Similar to the day before, we were accompanied by many common dolphins and diving gannets, and once more saw tuna breaking the surface. It was as we were sailing closer to Dingle that Hélène received calls of sightings of the deep-sea diving species of whale, the northern bottlenose whale, earlier during the day and further back along the peninsula from where we were. Our own lack of whale sightings and the unique nature of this one began to drive us a little bit up the wall and myself and Pearse jokingly but decidedly told each other that we didn’t even care about seeing whales after all. Nearing Dingle, while we were bothering the rest of the crew with our ridiculous exchange, was of course the moment a minke whale decided to put our claims to the test. The whole crew, including Pat who had been having a nap in the rib, managed to catch sight of the whale as it breached the surface again and we entered Dingle marina a victorious group.

Once we were moored, myself and Emer began to make dinner while Pearse, Paul and Mick skulked off to have a celebratory pint. That evening the friendships that had been forged over the past few days were immediately put through the ringer as, after a rather one-sided game of chess I played against Pearse, it was revealed to me that he had been concealing the fact he was a former all Ireland champion at the game. Things got heated as the crew then went on to play more games of Quirkle that could only be described as “rowdy” and “too loud for the quiet Dingle marina to be considered decent”. It could be considered a good thing that the wind and rain would grow so loud to cover up our yelling during the games!

On day six we were unfortunately stuck in Dingle due to the rapidly changing weather. Though this was disappointing we weren’t too put out as we had had three great fun days of sailing together against the beautiful backdrop of the Kerry coastline. The crew spent the day exploring the town, stopping by the aquarium and engaging in a bit of Dingle culture with plenty of Murphy’s ice cream. We took time to take advantage of the showers at the marina and I impressed the crew with the knots I had quickly learnt from them over the few days we had been on the Celtic Mist. They would be less impressed if they knew I had been focusing more on my knots then the actual work onboard, but until they read this, six knots is enough to keep them distracted from that fact.

Finally we all reconvened that evening for a large dinner made by Pearse, with help from Hélène, that was apparently a secret family recipe which manifested itself as Pearse shouting “don’t look! Close your eyes!” Every time anyone came down the ladder to pass through the galley. Pat joked that he only wanted us not to look so we wouldn’t see him being passed some take away boxes through the porthole. Despite the teasing the dinner was a big success and the perfect final meal together as a crew since most people were departing the next day. We finished the night off with some more Murphy’s ice cream that myself Emer and Hélène had braved the wind and rain to retrieve before playing some card games that got us just as riled up as the days before due to our undying competitive natures.

On Friday morning the crew had a final cup of tea and, courtesy of Hélène’s new favourite shop – the Little Cheese Shop, a round of cheese and crackers together before saying their final goodbyes. The weather didn’t look so promising and most of the group were anxious to hit the road early enough. In spite of the abrupt ending to our leg everyone was grateful for the three full days we got out on the Celtic Mist and all the sightings we had been lucky enough to record. The week we had was a success from start to finish, both through sightings and the people joined together by this experience. Even the dramatic evening board games couldn’t tarnish the bonds that we had made with one another, though, I’ll put that down to the fact that I let the others have a go at winning just to keep the peace.

And as a bonus, here are two poems of our beloved bilingual Poet Laureate of Celtic Mist, Pearse (and OpenAI):


In ocean’s embrace, Mick Stood bold and free,

A skipper renowned, with spirit like a sea.

His crew gathered ‘neath the azure sky’s grace,

For a whale-watching voyage, a wondrous chase.

With seasoned eyes, he read waves’ secret lore,

Guiding the ship where the leviathans soar.

Majestic giants breached the cerulean tide,

As Mick’s leadership filled hearts with pride.

Salt on his skin, wind tousled his hair,

He navigated through mists, unyielding and rare.

Whispers of legends, tales of the deep,

Mick’s legacy etched in memory they’d keep.

A great skipper, Mick, his destiny clear,

Guiding his crew as the whales drew near.



Hélène, sous-chef aux doigts de fée,

Sur le Celtic Mist, l’art de la gastronomie,

Avec le chef, elle compose une symphonie,

Plats savoureux en harmonie.

Les vagues chantent leur inspiration,

A bord,naît une divine création,

Epices et saveurs dansent avec le vent,

Sur l’océan, leur talent éclatant.

Hélène manie casseroles et rêves,

Dans la galère où tout s’achève,

Le Celtic Mist devient un tableau gourmand,

Un repas d’émotions, océan en élan.

IWDG wants to thanks every members of this crew for their time helping us collecting data. It’s very much appreciated.

𝑇ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑦𝑒𝑎𝑟𝑠 𝑠𝑢𝑟𝑣𝑒𝑦𝑠 𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝑏𝑒𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑟𝑢𝑛 𝑖𝑛 𝑐𝑜𝑙𝑙𝑎𝑏𝑜𝑟𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ Fair Seas. 𝐷𝑢𝑟𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑠𝑒𝑎𝑠𝑜𝑛 𝐶𝑒𝑙𝑡𝑖𝑐 𝑀𝑖𝑠𝑡 𝑤𝑖𝑙𝑙 𝑏𝑒 𝑠𝑢𝑟𝑣𝑒𝑦𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑎𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑆𝑜𝑢𝑡ℎ𝑤𝑒𝑠𝑡 𝐶𝑜𝑎𝑠𝑡 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝐿𝑜𝑜𝑝 𝐻𝑒𝑎𝑑 𝑡𝑜 𝐾𝑒𝑛𝑚𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝐴𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝐼𝑛𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑡 (𝐴𝑜𝐼) 𝑐𝑜𝑙𝑙𝑒𝑐𝑡𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑣𝑖𝑡𝑎𝑙 𝑖𝑛𝑓𝑜𝑟𝑚𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑜𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑚𝑎𝑟𝑖𝑛𝑒 𝑙𝑖𝑓𝑒 𝑖𝑛 𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑤𝑎𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑠.