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Weekly Maritime News Roundup

Weekly Maritime News and Comment.
By Tom MacSweeney, Marine Correspondent
Dateline – June 23, 2014.


There was a huge response to my story about the Killarney shad last week.
Several readers described the supplied photograph as a different fish, but the shad remains a fish worthy of protection.

Interestingly Inland Fisheries Ireland has urged the public to be more conscious of alien species after a yellow-bellied slider turtle was found in the River Maigue near Adare Village in County Limerick last week. The male turtle was found in the tidal waters of the river. It is native to the South Eastern United States, Florida and Virginia. It is the fourth sighting of such a species in Ireland.

Amanda Mooney, Director at Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) Limerick, urged the public to be more conscious when purchasing exotic species for pets. Escapees or deliberate releases into our natural resources can have detrimental consequences to our biodiversity, especially to our fisheries,” she said. “Reptiles are common as pets and it is likely that this turtle either escaped by accident or was purposely released. The turtle was in good physical condition. Unfortunately, it is now a common occurrence for Fishery Officers to uncover non-native species in our waterways. Problems occur if such species breed and become established, threatening native plants, animals and ecosystems. Also these animals can suffer great hardship and sometimes death in unsuitable habitat and cold weather.”

IFI officers brought the turtle to an animal welfare centre in Kilmallock, Co. Limerick.
The number of non-native freshwater species recorded in Irish watercourses has increased significantly. Many of the most problematic species present in Ireland today were introduced in the last 20 years. The rate of species introductions is accelerating because of increased international travel and trade.

Previous sightings of yellow-bellied turtles in Ireland were in Sligo, the Dublin area and at Killaloe in County Clare. It is a commonly sold species in the pet trade. The size of the animal when bought is normally around 5 centimetres long. They are long lived species that can grow up to 20 cms for males and 28 cms for females. It is illegal to release these and other exotic, non-native, species into the wild.in Ireland.

• IFI run a 24-hour line to which discovery of an alien species can be reported: 1850 FISH 24 or 1890 34 74 24


The Radio Officers’ Association, representing those who were the ‘Sparks’ of the shipping industry, from a beginning in 1994, has grown to 400 members worldwide. For the first time, Ireland has been selected for a Reunion of its members. Dun Laoghaire is the chosen location and the gathering will be on the weekend of November 21/22. Colman Shaughnessy, the Association’s Vice-Chairman, who organises their activities in Ireland, is delighted with the decision, a recognition of the commitment of the many Irish seafarers who were ‘Sparks’ of their day.


An international research team, led by scientists from NUI Galway has been exploring the Whittard Canyon, a deep-sea submarine canyon system in the North East Atlantic aboard the Marine Institute’s RV Celtic Explorer. Researchers from Ireland, the UK, the USA and Germany are using the Institute’s ROV Holland I to study the diversity of deep-water animals and relate this to geology and ocean currents. The Whittard Canyon system is at the Continental Margin approximately 250 miles SW of Cork, covering an area of 2,000 square miles and is home to vulnerable marine ecosystems of cold-water corals, deepwater oysters and clams. Research is revealing a remarkable diversity and abundance of rare black corals, which are protected under international legislation.

“The extreme shape of submarine canyons seems to affect the water flow within them in such a way as to deliver nutrient rich waters to particular parts of the canyon system. This allows diverse ecosystems to flourish. Our research is attempting to understand these processes so that we can predict where the most vulnerable ecosystems are likely to occur and therefore ensure the environment is protected,” said Dr. Martin White of NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute and the expedition’s Chief Scientist.

The Whittard Canyon system has branches extending over an area of more than 80 by 20 miles. Mapping the system, much of which is in depths below 1,500m, to detect vulnerable species is difficult. Therefore the team hopes that the new data will reveal the factors that determine which species occur where.


In my SEA ECHOES weekly column in the CORK EVENING ECHO this Wednesday I will be talking to a young artist who paints seascapes and whose particular interest is lighthouses. She is Ellen Barrett from Roche’s Point, where a well-known and historic lighthouse is located at the entrance to Cork Harbour. She has most interesting views about lighthouses and how they convey an image of help and support.


The US Coast Guard has concluded that a combination of faulty management and crew risk assessment procedures contributed to the sinking. of the tall ship Bounty during Hurricane Sandy off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, which resulted in the death of one crewmember and the Captain in October 2012. Its investigation report criticises “choosing to navigate a vessel in insufficient material condition in close proximity to an approaching hurricane with an inexperienced crew.” It has recommended a review of existing policy for similar vessels, including manning and operating status. The 108-foot-long tall wooden replica of the original 18th century HMS Bounty set sail on October 25, 2012 from New London, Connecticut, for St. Petersburg, Florida, into the forecasted path of Superstorm Sandy, just one day after the closely-watched storm reached hurricane strength. On the morning of October 29, 2012, the ship began to take on water, forcing the crew to abandon into liferafts. The US Coast Guard was able to rescue all but two of the Bounty’s 16 crew members. Hours after rescue operations had commenced, the Coast Guard recovered the body of a crew member who was found wearing an immersion suit. The Captain’s body was never recovered. The Coast Guard investigation report follows the National Transportation Safety Board’s incident report released in February, which found that the Captain’s “reckless decision to sail into the well-forecasted path of Hurricane Sandy” was the probable cause of the tragedy.


The Marine Times newspaper has announced that its quarterly supplement ‘THIS ISLAND NATION’ which has been published within the paper is to be increased to monthly publication from September. This is in recognition of increased reader interest and to mark the 25th anniversary of the founding of The Marine Times


Three community radio stations now broadcast THIS ISLAND NATION monthly hour-long radio programme – CRY104 FM, Community Radio Youghal; NEAR FM 90.3 FM in Dublin and Raidio Corca Baiscinn, West Clare on 94.8 FM. The programme is also transmitted on two maritime websites: Afloat,ie and The Marine Times. THIS ISLAND NATION is also transmitted on the monthly sound magazine of the National Council for the Blind of Ireland.

IF YOU LIKE THIS FACEBOOK PAGE, may I refer you also to the my weekly blog, with different storylines, THIS ISLAND NATION on www.afloat.ie