Eye on Nature: Your notes and queries for Ethna Viney

Dolphin’s head, crayfish, inseparable geese and sea beans

Skeleton of the head of a dolphin found on a small beach south of Thallabawn Strand

Skeleton of the head of a dolphin found on a small beach south of Thallabawn Strand

 

We found this skeleton, which I presume is a porpoise, on a small beach south of Thallabawn Strand.

Liam Cabot, Westport, Co Mayo

It is the head of a common dolphin, identified by its roughly 50 pairs of teeth in each jaw. According to the Irish Whale & Dolphin Group, they are seen mainly on the west, southwest and south coasts and are the second most frequently stranded species.

Friends of the Camac, a community group in Clondalkin, has been cleaning up the river. At a recent clean-up we came across two crayfish, which we believe are very scarce.

Tommy Keogh, Clondalkin, Dublin 22

The white-clawed crayfish is the only Irish freshwater species. The main threats to it are drainage, pollution and fungal disease. 

These three geese have been living in Bray Harbour for a number of years. They seem to be three different breeds and are inseparable. What breed are they?

William McConnell, Bray, Co Wicklow

The white one with saddle markings looks like the Shetland goose; the black-beaked one is probably one of the Chinese breeds; and the red-beaked one looks like one of the pilgrim breeds.  

I found this large seed on Thallabawn Strand and presume that it travelled some distance. It must be pretty hardy to have survived the salt water.

John Cabot, Cloghans, Westport, Co Mayo

Called sea beans or sea hearts, they are the seeds of a climbing bean that grows on the shores of tropical America and the West Indies. They are carried here on the Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic Drift. In times gone by they were used as teething rings for babies by coastal communities on the west coast.

Ethna Viney welcomes observations and photographs at Thallabawn, Louisburgh, Co Mayo, F28F978, or by email at viney@anu.ie. Include a postal address.

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