The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) currently have an online petition set up on ‘my.uplift.ie’ with the aim of pushing TD Heather Humphreys, The Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, “to consider extending the boundary of the current Lower River Shannon SAC to include both Brandon and Tralee Bays in North Kerry as they represent significant habitats to the protected Shannon bottlenose dolphin population”.
The lower Shannon Estuary is currently a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). This region was first designated as an SAC because of the delicate population of Bottlenose Dolphins that inhabit this area of the Shannon Estuary. The IWDG have stated that according to research, it is known that this area in Ireland is one of the most important for Bottlenose Dolphins and is home to roughly 120 individuals of this species which have been studied for over two decades by the IWDG, since the establishment of IWDG in 1990.
The petition has been created by the IWDG due to recent research that had been conducted in the Shannon Estuary regarding Bottlenose Dolphin movements. The studies found that there was a very high number of Dolphins present within bays in the lower Shannon Estuary region which illustrates that these areas may be significant habitats for this species. The IWDG are pushing for an extension within this region to be included in the Special Area of Conservation.
The IWDG are encouraging the Irish public, conservationists and marine wildlife managers to sign this petition in order to help their case on this ecologically important matter.
The link to both the website for the IWDG and the petition are presented below for all members of the public who wish to sign the petition or become more familiarised with the IWDG and their current situation!
Petition Link: https://my.uplift.ie/petitions/north-kerry-to-be-made-a-marine-protected-area-for-bottlenose-dolphins