Your notes and queries for Ethna Viney

The Irish Times - Weekend Review - - OUTDOORS -

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 in the west. Ethna Viney welcomes ob­ser­va­tions and pho­to­graphs at Thal­labawn, Louis­burgh, Co Mayo, F28 F978, or by email at Please in­clude a postal ad­dress

Clock­wise from left: a cray­fish found in the Ca­mac in Clon­dalkin; a dol­phin skull on Thal­labawn Strand; a sea bean or sea heart; and Bray Har­bour’s troika of geese

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