While land observations or acoustic detections tell us about when and where our whales, dolphins and porpoises use Irish waters, going to sea is often the required to learn more through techniques like photo-ID which need sharp, up-close images and that’s where our research vessels come into place.
Celtic Mist was generously donated to the IWDG in 2011 by the Haughey family. Since then she has been extensively refitted by the group twice to enable her to survey and visit Irish coastal communities during the summer months. At 17 m she is IWDG’s flagship vessel equipped to accommodate 8 people. Numerous schools have visited her since she was relaunched in 2012 to learn about our cetacean species and the IWDG’s work. She has surveyed offshore Irish waters where a pair of blue whales were seen on her first trip! She recently undertook an expedition to Iceland in 2018 retracing the movements of foraging humpback whales between the two countries.
Celtic Mist is collectively owned by each IWDG member who become her crew during while sailing her each summer. Members help sail and prepare meals onboard while keeping an ever watchful eye out for whales, dolphins, porpoise and other charismatic megafauna, each day.
Muc Mhara became the IWDG’s first research vessel in 2006 through generous funding by the Heritage Council. She is a 6 m XS 600 Deluxe RIB with a 115hp Yamaha outboard engine capable of reaching 30 knots or more. She is complete with a GPS, a depth sounder and a VHF radio with seating for three people and room for 10 overall.
She has been used extensively as part of inshore cetacean monitoring surveys especially in the long term photo-identification project on the resident population of bottlenose dolphins in the Shannon Estuary but also for large whales and basking sharks on occasion.
IWDG recently received 80% funding from Clare Local Development Company (under LEADER) to purchase a new 4 stroke 115 hp Yamaha engine.