Irish Sharks on RTE 1

Don’t miss this programme about Irish sharks on Sunday 29th June at 18.30 on RTE 1. There is some incredible footage of Irish sharks skates and rays. The porbeagle tagging project is also featured.

 

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Irish elasmobranchs to feature on Ireland’s Ocean series

Bella tagged and ready for release

Bella tagged and ready for release

‘Ireland’s Ocean’ is a major new four part ocean wildlife series for RTÉ One exploring the wonderful and diverse creatures that live in the seas around Ireland, from dolphins and sharks to plankton and the myriad of tiny colourful creatures that live in our shallow waters.

The series looks at the history of man’s relationship with and response to the sea in Ireland, examining the common perception of creatures like dolphins and sharks … are dolphins highly intelligent, sensitive creatures capable of healing sick children? Why are worrying numbers of dolphins washing up dead on our Atlantic coast? Are sharks terrifying animals waiting below the sea surface to eat us?  The truth transpires to be quite a surprise and leaves us with considerable food for thought. The porbeagle tagging project will feature on the shark episode and will reveal more about these incredible animals.

In other areas, the series takes us on a journey into wild and the colourful underwater world in the seas around Ireland, encountering an abundance of exotic creatures, many documented for the first time in this area. Throughout the programmes, there is a strong sense of the interconnectedness of life, and natural balance within this world, as creatures depend on each other’s presence to sustain life.

Ireland’s Ocean begins on Sunday June 22nd at 6:30pm on RTÉ One and runs for four weeks.

Tag a ray in Tralee Bay

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Tralee Bay stingray with tag

Over 40 anglers, including Ed, descended on Fenit, Co. Kerry to take part in Tralee Bay Sea Angling Club’s “Tag a Ray Competition” over the recent June bank holiday weekend. The aim of the competition was to catch and tag stingrays and undulate rays. These rare species are seasonally abundant in Tralee Bay, which is believed to be a pupping or nursery ground for these and other elasmobranchs.

Stingray spines

Stingray spines

 

Many people are unaware that stingrays even occur in Irish waters and very little is known about their biology. Most of the stingrays that are caught in Tralee Bay are large females and can weigh over 30kg. Nothing is known about the population size within the Bay or where the stingrays go during winter. It is hoped that the tagging will yield some important data to help with the conservation of this species.

Tralee Bay Undulate Skate

Tralee Bay Undulate Skate

The undulate ray is actually a species of skate as they lay egg cases (oviparous) and the stingray is a true ray as they give birth to free swimming young (viviparous). Undulates are currently classified as Endangered on the IUCN redlist and the Tralee Bay population is believed to be isolated from other populations in the English Channel and Bay of Biscay. Therefore it is critical to conserve this population. To this end a study is underway in France to investigate population structure and determine if there is any connectivity among populations. Fin clips taken during the weekend will be analysed as part of this project.

 

Shark Redlist Workshop

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Ed is heading to Plymouth this week to attend the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) EU Chondrichthyes Redlist Workshop. Ed is the current  Co-Regional Vice Chair of the Northeast Atlantic Shark Specialist Group (SSG).

The SSG was established by the IUCN Species Survival Commission in 1991. The Group provides leadership for the conservation of threatened species and populations of all chondrichthyan fishes. Their aim is to secure the conservation, management and recovery of the world’s sharks, rays and chimaeras by mobilizing global technical and scientific expertise to provide the knowledge that enables action. There are 128 SSG members from 35 countries distributed among 12 ocean-region subgroups.

The IUCN Red List is the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global status of plant and animal species and is the most extensively used system for gauging the extinction risk faced by species. This week’s workshop in Plymouth will bring together the NE Atlantic and Mediterranean subgroups and will focus on reassessing the status of all chondrichthyans in these regions.