Episode 87: Irish Whale and Dolphin Group with Pádraig Whooley

I have wanted to record an episode about the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) and their work for quite a while now. Their excellent website, with a database where you can report sightings and strandings, was even mentioned in one of my vlogs. So today, it is my pleasure to bring you my conversation with IWDG’s Sightings Officer Pádraig Whooley.

We started with discussing at length IWDG origins and their current work. After that, we dug deep into a whole host of interesting topics related to cetaceans, starting with a discussion about cetacean species that can be observed and encountered in our local waters. That conversation included some interesting facts about how to behave in the presence of a whale and about the rules and regulations around it. We discussed whale watching techniques and the required equipment. We also talked about the unpleasant issue of whale strandings. And of course, I did not forget to discuss cetacean evolution, a personal favourite of mine.

This is an amazing episode and if you have any level of interest in whales or dolphins you will, without a doubt, find it deeply interesting.

Episode 86: Hunting and Nutrition with Alan Kenny

I don’t think that anyone who has at least dipped his toes in hunting needs to be convinced of how important it is to be in good physical shape to fully enjoy the experience. Strength and endurance come in handy not only when it comes to walking long miles in search of an animal with a lot of gear on your back but also during the extraction of the carcass. A critical component of keeping yourself fit and strong is correct nutrition. Luckily, a successful hunt itself helps you source healthy, clean, and nutrient-dense food.

And so to explore the topic of hunting and nutrition, our guest today is Alan Kenny who, having spent years hunting in the Canadian wilderness, knows a thing or two about the demands of hunting. And Alan is also a performance nutritionist who heads the science & education area for Optimum Nutrition where he works with athletes. During our chat, we discuss various aspects of hunting in Canada before switching to the subject of nutrition.

Full disclaimer: Optimum Nutrition is not sponsoring this episode, although they should feel completely free to send me a big drum of Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Powder.

Episode 85: Time nor Tide with Ben Harkin

Climate change, in one way or another, is mentioned in almost every episode of my podcast. But with the exception of episode 38, which was a recorded public talk, I have never dedicated a whole episode to this important issue. But today we’re going to jump right into this subject with Ben Harkin who wrote a book about climate change in the Irish context. Ben is a young man who decided to put to good use the extra time he had available during the lockdown and wrote a book about climate change! Not only that, he also self-published it to avoid any delays with getting his message out. Talk about a good use of time!

I read the book and must say that I’m blown away by it. It is well written and covers a wide spectrum of climate change issues. Ben put a lot of effort into research for the book and all key information and statements are backed up with ample references to scientific papers, press releases, governmental documents and other books. In the book, Ben makes many refreshing observations that I have not heard before. What are they? You need to buy the book and read it for yourself! One thing for sure you won’t regret your purchase. And with the Christmas season around the corner, you just might have an excellent gift idea!

Given all of the above, I was really pleased to be able to sit down with Ben and talk about his book. In this episode, we not only discuss some of the issues he mentions but also his motives and the process of writing the book. I am very happy with this episode and Ben is a great man. Go, listen, and then buy the book!

Episode 84: Basking Sharks with Natasha Phillips and Amy Garbett

In this episode, I had the pleasure to talk once again with scientists from SeaMonitor project. This time our guests were Dr Natasha Phillips and Dr Amy Garbett. Our conversation was focused on Basking Sharks but while at it we discussed a whole range of other subjects as well, like genetic connectivity, biotelemetry and bioinformatics. There is nothing like a conversation with scientists who are genuinely passionate about their work. If you are interested in marine biology, sharks and science you can’t afford to miss this episode!

Episode 83: Tracking Seals with Sam L Cox

This is yet another episode of the podcast where we talk about seals. This time I hit you with a healthy dose of unbiased, evidence-based knowledge. Actually, that’s not me doing the hitting but our guest Dr Sam L Cox who is a quantitative ecologist and researcher for the SeaMonitor project. In our conversation, we discuss the behaviour and spatial ecology of harbour seals which are tracked using GPS tags glued to their head. But that’s not all, Sam has done a lot of research studying other, more exotic, species of seals, like elephant seals. So, we discuss that too! We also touch on the anthropogenic impact on seals and mobile marine predators in general. This is one interesting episode. Enjoy!

Episode 82: Outdoor Therapy with Ruth Allen

The benefits of being outdoors for our mental health and wellbeing have been discussed on the podcast a few times already. But this is a subject that is always worth revisiting. Especially when my guest’s impressive resume guarantees a fresh and well-developed approach.

And so in this episode, our guest is Dr Ruth Allen, an outdoor and online counselling therapist, professional development coach, and experienced consultant, trainer and facilitator. During the podcast, we discuss the importance of connecting with nature, being comfortable with one’s own company and thoughts, dealing with negativity, the destructive effects of social media and the need to disconnect in today’s always-online world.

Episode 81: Skates and Marine Rewilding with Patrick Collins

Not that long ago I wrote a blog post about angling for endangered fish species, including the common skate, which is highly sought after as a trophy catch. These elusive fish, however, are classified as critically endangered and unfortunately, we don’t have much information about their life history. 

So I welcomed the opportunity to talk with Dr Patrick Collins who is a marine biologist at Queen’s University Belfast where he works on large scale marine rewilding. Currently, he is focusing on translocation of the locally extirpated flapper skate. Patrick is also an angler. A perfect combination! So whether you are interested in marine biology, rewilding, or you’re an angler who wants to learn more about skates, this episode is for you!

This episode was possible thanks to SeaMonitor marine research project. Feature image courtesy of Carrigaholt Sea Angling Centre.

Episode 80: Into the Wilderness with Byron Pace

Byron Pace needs no introduction to most of you. He is a man of many talents: a filmmaker, photographer, writer and the host of the excellent Into The Wilderness and Into The Anthropocene podcasts. Given that we share many topics, and even guests, on our podcasts I was delighted to talk with Byron. During our conversation, we discussed the importance of hunters and anglers for wildlife conservation and education about the natural world. We also delved into the subject of rewilding. Obviously, I didn’t forget to ask Byron about his road to becoming such a prominent outdoors content creator. For me, this truly is a milestone episode. Please enjoy Tommy’s Outdoors number 80.

Episode 79: SeaMonitor and Ocean Tracking Network with Ross McGill and Fred Whoriskey

On Tommy’s Outdoors, we spend a lot of time talking about fish tagging programs and various types of research supported by them. But our guests today are taking this concept to an entirely new level. They are Ross McGill, the Principal Project Officer for SeaMonitor at Loughs Agency and Dr Fred Whoriskey, the Executive Director at Ocean Tracking Network.

If research and monitoring of marine wildlife and the environment is your cup of tea you will be delighted to hear from these two gentlemen. During the podcast, we talk about the SeaMonitor project itself as well as the technology used in the research, from Bluetooth enabled GPS tags all the way to autonomous submarines and seagoing drones.

Episode 78: Human-Seal Conflict with Liam Flannery and Dan Brosnan

In episode 72 we started a discussion about seals in Ireland. As you might remember, at the time, I said that we wouldn’t get into the subject of human-seal conflict in that episode, as this is a complex subject that requires its own discussion.

Since then, I’ve wanted to cover it from all angles but it has been difficult to find people willing to talk about it on record. Clearly, there are a lot of emotions surrounding this issue.

Then, one day, I received a call from Dan Brosnan, who is a friend of the podcast and was our guest on one of the previous episodes. Dan got in touch with a young fisherman, Liam Flannery, who is trying his hardest to raise awareness about the problems that seals are causing for local fishermen. Before long we got all mic’d up and recorded this episode.

Obviously, we didn’t cover everything on this topic. So, if you have an opinion that you would like to share, please leave a comment. Better still, contact me directly and we’ll keep this discussion going.