16/07/2013:Minister Deenihan launches new atlas of Irish whales and dolphins
Wednesday 16 July 2013: Mr Jimmy Deenihan, TD. Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht will this evening (16 July 2013 ) launch a new atlas of marine mammals -The Atlas of the Distribution and Relative Abundance of Marine Mammals in Irish Offshore Waters provides up to date information for 19 species of cetaceans (whales and dolphins). Ireland is home to a remarkable diversity of whales and dolphins and this Atlas shows how common and widespread some of these species are; well known species such as the harbour porpoise and common dolphin, but also much larger animals such as the Fin whales which can reach up to 25m in length.
Not all of Irish cetaceans are common however. The Atlas also highlights the importance of Irish waters for some of the Atlantic’s rarer, deepwater species such as the sperm whale and several beaked whales. These are species about which very little is known and more work will be required in the coming years to allow a better understanding of the conservation requirements of these animals.
Every six years, Ireland is obliged to report on the conservation status of all of its marine mammals as part of its commitments under the European Union’s Habitats Directive. The data from this Atlas has already proved invaluable in underpinning Ireland’s 2013 report to the European Commission.
Speaking at the launch today in Dún Laoghaire “Minister Deenihan commended the work undertaken to produce the Atlas: “This fine Atlas is the culmination of many years of work by a large number of people and I’m happy to note that it was produced under a project funded over several years by my Department in collaboration with the Marine Institute. As Minister, I have also extended the protection afforded to whales and dolphins through the designation of additional marine special areas of conservation. I would like to thank the Irish Whale & Dolphin Group for this excellent publication.”
The Atlas is available from www.iwdg.ie.