Inishowen, February ~ Over the last month, two dolphins have been washed up on Inishowen?s shores. Cetacean (marine mammal) strandings normally peak during the December to March period.
A stranding means that the mammal has been stranded or washed up on the shore. There are live stranding?s and also dead ones. There have been several live strandings on the peninsula in recent years. Some people might remember the well publicised stranding near the big Isle of two bottlenose dolphins in July 2002.
The dolphin stranded on Lagg beach was a common dolphin and showed no obvious signs or reason?s for its death. Dolphins can contract disease and infections naturally and also die of old age just like you or me.
The second dolphin was reportedly stranded around Christmas time on Pollon bay near Ballyliffen. Unfortunately I was not informed and due to the carcasses bad state of decomposition I am unable to positively ID the species type. The head is missing! If I was able to take a photo or see the head briefly I would be able to make a positive I.D.
This information about cetaceans is very important, as we know very little about their life cycle and habits. Most of the information we gain is stranding records and samples taken out of dead strandings. The Irish Whale and dolphin Group co-ordinate this gathering of information and they also play an important educational and awareness role in Ireland and Internationally. Thanks to their work Irish waters were recently made a sanctuary for whales and dolphins, the first in the world.
Ireland has some of the best waters in Europe for whale and dolphin watching. Inishowen surrounded by sea Loughs and the Atlantic is of course one of the best spots in the country. For the last few summers we had some interesting visitors like killer whales and blue fin tuna. Minke whales and basking sharks are a common sight around Inishowen as well as the usual sightings of dolphins and porpoise.
Here on Inishowen were lucky because you don?t need a boat to go whale watching. Fort Dunree, Malin head and Inishowen Head are three great spots to watch.
The Irish whale and dolphin group hold whale watching workshops around Ireland. This summer for the first time I will be co-ordinating an open day for National Whale Watching Day at Fort Dunree.
Remember when approaching a stranded cetacean be very careful to wear gloves or clean any part of your body that comes in contact with them.
Please report any information you have to myself
Emmett Johnston ? Wildlife Conservation Ranger-Inishowen
PH: 074 9 322628 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
or at www.iwdg.ie