MMO blog from RV Celtic Explorer during WESPAS Survey

Justin Judge

I am excited to be onboard RV Celtic Explorer once again, this time for the annual WESPAS survey which will be carried out over the next 41 days.

Today is day 1, test day, where we will be steaming to the other side of Galway Bay to calibrate the fisheries acoustic equipment. Later tonight we will set sail for offshore waters and begin our journey south to the coast of France, where the ship’s survey will begin. This first part of the trip will take two days and travel through waters rife with northerly migrating cetaceans at this time of year. Watch this space for the exciting sightings we’re expecting over the next few days!

MMO blog from RV Celtic Explorer during Blue Whiting Survey: Updated

Blue Whiting Research Cruise – Day 15

Day 15 on the Marine Institute’s Blue Whiting Survey 2021. Since the last blog, it has been a mixed bag of good and bad days in terms of weather and sea conditions. A strengthening westerly storm meant we could only partially survey then had to take shelter along the north coast of Ireland. Once that passed we were greeted with several straight days of good conditions and the sightings began to rack up. We recorded common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, humpback whales, sperm whales, pilot whales and a very deep diving and elusive beaked whale species: northern bottlenose whales. However, the trip highlight so far has to be the lone offshore male killer whale putting on a show for us by breaching, tail slapping and swimming upside down! It will be tough to top that, but there is still a week of the cruise left…

Blue Whiting Research Cruise – Day 1 

It has been an exciting first 3 days on the 2021 Blue Whiting Survey. Our journey out to the first transect line on Day 1 produced observations of a pod of up to 10 common dolphins and later the same day a pod of 6 pilot whales (4 adults and 2 juveniles).

Weather conditions deteriorated on Day 2 but we remained hopeful and although no cetaceans were sighted, we recorded good numbers of seabird species with the first trip highlights being great skua and blue fulmar. Day 3 (current day at time of writing) has proven less favorable with the weather, with big seas and high winds allowing us to reflect on our survey plans for the coming weeks Remaining eager for the bad weather to pass, we will see what sightings come up along the way! “

Dr Justin Judge