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Vital marine life data returned safely thanks to Manx efforts

(6 July 2022) The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company have assisted in the safe return of specialist equipment for tracking the behaviours of porpoises and dolphins in the Irish Sea.

The device, which resembles a length of drainpipe, was discovered in June by local residents Sam and Voirrey Samson, while walking their dog on Gansey beach. They handed it in to Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch (MWDW), who identified it as an underwater monitoring device belonging to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) containing important data.

On 7th June, the device returned to Dublin on board the High-Speed Craft Manannan, at no cost to the charity.

Clowie Russel, Marine Mammal Ecologist at IWDG, explained: ‘This device is vital to Static Acoustic Monitoring (SAM) and is critical for research necessary for us to deliver a Marine Mammal Mitigation Plan on behalf of Dublin Port Company to meet compliance with planning permission and licensing obligations for the Alexandra Basin Redevelopment Project.

‘SAMs detect dolphin and porpoise vocalisations and log their occurrence. This enables us to gather information on the use of spoil grounds by harbour porpoise prior to, and during, dredging campaigns, and to monitor if any displacement from the site occurs.’

Jen Adams from Manx Whale and Dolphin watched added: ‘We want to express our sincere gratitude to the Samson family who found the device and the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company for going above and beyond to ensure this important device was safely returned.’

Brian Thomson, Managing Director of The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, said: ‘As a UNESCO Biosphere Partner, the Company is committed to protecting our natural environment where we can. As such, we were delighted to provide secure passage of this specialist equipment containing that all-important data, which is vital to the continuation of marine life research.

The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company is also assisting the local charity with their roadshow event in August, which sees realistic life-size inflatable whales, dolphins, sharks, seals, and turtles travel to the Island for a fun and educational weekend event. The MWDW show takes place on 6th and 7th August at the Villa Marina Promenade Suite. Tickets are £5 for adults, payable on the door, with kids going free.