Irish whale experts retrace humpback feeding routes
The same mammals ply the waters between Ireland and Iceland.
A group of Ireland-based whale experts will retrace the feeding routes of the humpback this week when they set course for Iceland.
The same mammals ply the waters between the two countries. A small number have been identified in both places and researchers hope to gather more evidence.
In Ireland the whale is protected and hunting is forbidden.
In Iceland it is hunted although much of the meat is consumed by tourists, the expedition’s chief scientific officer, Dr Simon Berrow from the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, said.
He added: “They see whales as another resource.”
He said Iceland managed its fisheries in general very well but the expedition was about building connections between the two countries.
“It is a different attitude, they are a rural, coastal and maritime people, it is not surprising that they look at whales as food.”
Former Taoiseach Charles Haughey declared Ireland’s waters a whale sanctuary in 1991 as an indication of the country’s commitment to contribute to the preservation and protection of the creatures.
They spend half the year in the colder waters of countries like Ireland and Iceland feeding in preparation for the breeding season further south when they need warmer waters which are less rich in nutrients to have their offspring.
Researchers from the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group set off in their vessel Celtic Mist on Thursday.
Their progress can be tracked via their website www.iwdg.ie.