WhaleTrack Ireland is an exciting new project, which aims to determine what large baleen whales are doing in Irish waters, where are they coming from and going to. This project engages with citizen scientists, described as “the collection of data relating to the natural world by members of the general public, typically as part of a collaborative project with professional scientists”. IWDG have been encouraging and working with citizen scientists for decades.
WhaleTrack Ireland is funded by Ryanair through the company’s Carbon Offset Program which is supported by voluntary donations made by Ryanair customers during the booking process
The IWDG aims to learn more about the large whales that annually visit our shores to feed. Humpback and fin whales will be watched from land along the southwest and south coasts from Clare to Waterford and (where possible) attempts will be made to reach these animals by boat. Biopsy sampling will take place to gather genetic samples using a crossbow to determine the whales genders, pollution levels and even what prey they have eaten! Acoustic monitoring will take place using hydrophones and traps to identify areas of importance along with continuing the groups photo-identification projects and measuring whales total length and body condition using a drone.
The year-long project began in September 2018 and will help answer long standing questions about these large but secretive animals.
The humpback whale is the most iconic of all whales. They populations were once depleted worldwide through commercial whaling but they are now slowly recovering. In 1999 the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group started to catalogue photographed humpback whales. Since then 92 individuals have been recorded mainly off Counties Cork and Kerry but there are records now from all around the Irish coastline. They travel here to feed on shoaling fish but some “Irish” whales have been recorded in Iceland, Norway, the Netherlands and Gibraltar but the breeding grounds for these “Irish” whales remains a mystery. The time humpbacks return to Irish waters has changed in recent years from late Autumn to Spring and we do not know whether our waters are their final destination or just a stop off point. Clearly we still have a lot to learn about these giants which WhaleTrack Ireland aims to answer.
FUNDED BY RYANAIR CUSTOMERS
Without funding the IWDG are very limited to what they can achieve.
WhaleTrack Ireland is funded by Ryanair through the company’s Carbon Offset Program, which is supported by voluntary donations made by Ryanair customers during the booking process