Celtic Mist News June 2014

By Deirdre Slevin

Celtic Mist has had an active schedule over the past two months.   Once the annual maintenance was completed, Celtic Mist returned to the water early May, in ship shape condition and ready to set sail in search of cetaceans once again.

On the 12th of May the team onboard departed New Ross in County Wexford, where she had endured the wild winter season and set sail for Dun Laoghaire.  The new sails were hauled as soon as we left the estuary and the crew had a very enjoyable sail to their destination.  A basking shark was sighted off Carnsore Point as all onboard enjoyed a stunning sunset.

Sunset over Carnsore Point © Deirdre Slevin

Onwards from Dun Laoghaire, Celtic Mist set sail to Ballycastle, County Antrim, berthing overnight in the picturesque Ardglass, County Down.  The crew were accompanied by Harbour porpoise as they rounded scenic Fair head on their way into Ballycastle.  Celtic Mist arrived in Rathlin Island for their annual Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival and the IWDG team onboard were given a warm welcome by the friendly islanders and an excellent weekend was had. Our Northern Ireland Officer Suzanne Beck and IWDG volunteers promoted our work throughout the weekend, which achieved great interest and broadened our presence up on the north coast with several new members.  Celtic Mist brought all our new members sailing around Rathlin Island observing local marine life, where they were accompanied by Harbour Porpoise and  Bottlenose Dolphins and enjoyed the trip immensely with clear green waters and cloud free blue skies.

Celtic Mist at Rathlin Island © Deirdre Slevin

Celtic Mist returned to Ballycastle after the festival weekend, changed crew, stocked up on provisions and set sail to the Hebridean Islands on the West coast of Scotland. Taking in the stunning scenery of the Islands en route, the crew enjoyed the calm seas, clear blue skies and endless sun for the duration of their trip.  We were welcomed by the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT) in Tobermory and celebrated World Oceans day together, taking the opportunity to photograph both Celtic Mist and the Silurian together, visit each others research vessels and compare our work and methods of research.  This visit proved a great opportunity for similar organisations to work together and discuss how we can expand and improve on all the various areas of IWDG and Celtic Mist.

Celtic Mist sails with Silurian © Deirdre Slevin

Despite losing my voice on route and being very conscious of a Wexford accent, I wondered if i would be either heard or understood on the Isle of Mull, but I managed to give a presentation as part of HWDT’s festival and talk about the work of IWDG and Celtic Mist, in particular our Humpback whale catalogue, which gained great interest from all those who joined us for the talk.   Dr. Conor Ryan greatly assisted with my presentation, giving in depth details of the scientific research he has carried out with the Humpback whales over the years, which was very much appreciated.  Celtic Mist was an ‘open boat’ for visitors following the talks and the interest in IWDG and our vessel was tremendous from scientists, to researchers, marine students, like minded organisations and the local islanders.  Christina Dixon from World Animal Protection also came onboard to meet with me and discuss how we can work together on their campaign ‘Sea Change’ to monitor ghost gear and marine litter in relation to the entanglement of marine mammals.

Celtic Mist has since returned the safely to Ballycastle, following two very successful and enjoyable weeks to the Hebridean islands.  The crew encountered harbour porpoise, bottlenose dolphins and minke whales throughout the trip.  In July Celtic Mist will carry out a series of passive acoustic monitoring surveys along the north and north west coast, recording whales and dolphins from Ballycastle/Rathlin Island as far as Galway bay.

A preliminary schedule for Celtic Mist is as follows:

Here’s hoping the sunny skies and calm seas continue throughout the summer, providing us with opportunities to continue cetacean research around the coastline of Ireland.

We are looking for more members to become involved in the Celtic Mist project, Skippers, crew, scientists, members to help with the running, promoting and assisting with organising of research trips, attending festivals and helping with maintenance.  If you would like to help out in any way, please contact me by emailing celticmist@iwdg.ie

Deirdre Slevin
Celtic Mist Manager

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