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Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

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Marine Environment, Science, wildlife, weather & Ocean energy
Just 40 per cent of 32 coastal areas surveyed were deemed clean to “European norms”
Fewer than half of the beaches and harbours in the State have been deemed clean, but the situation is getting better, according to an annual survey published by Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL). Cork Harbour at Blackrock Castle and White…
A pair of dolphins swimming off Northern Ireland
Ballycastle Coastguard joined officials from Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in responding to reports of dolphins being potentially harassed by personal water craft and other leisure vessels. The teams launched on Sunday afternoon (25 July)…
Red swamp crayfish
Research led by Queen’s University Belfast has shown that invasive species, such as the grey squirrel, European rabbit and Japanese knotweed, have cost the UK economy over £5 billion over the past 40-50 years, making the cost one of the…
The tail of the Humpback Whale named Orion
A new individual Humpback Whale, nicknamed ‘Orion’, has been sighted for the first time in Irish waters, approximately 60 kilometres north-northwest of Malin Head, Co Donegal. The humpback whale was sighted onboard the Marine Institute’s RV Celtic Explorer as part…
Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien
Two Government ministers have called on people to give their views on the expansion of Ireland’s marine protected areas (MPAs) before the deadline at the end of this week. Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien and Minister…
Susan Kellett and her son DJ (centre) greet Minister of State Malcolm Noonan (right) at Enniscoe Estate
Minister of State for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan has announced a partnership agreement with Enniscoe House, in Co Mayo that will see the establishment of a new nature reserve on the site. The reserve would be jointly managed by the owners,…
Aran Islands RNLI all-weather Severn class lifeboat
Aran Islands RNLI's volunteer crew came to the aid of a cyclist who fell off his bike today (Monday 19 July). The crew were asked to launch their all-weather Severn class lifeboat at 12.19 pm. A male visitor to the…
Clean Coasts is hosting a workshop this Thursday, July 22nd to address any issues arising from the public consultation
 With just ten days to go in the public consultation on marine protected areas, An Taisce’s Clean Coasts programme is reminding people to “have their say”. Ireland currently protects just over two per cent of territorial waters, and the Government…
The musicians are on the Galway hooker Mac Duach, skippered and owned by Dr Michael Brogan
Award-winning harpist Laoise Kelly has embarked on a concert tour to five west coast islands on a Galway hooker. As The Times Ireland reports, Kelly aims to reconnect island communities with music, storytelling and song. Kelly, a TG4 musician of…
Salmon post smolts sampled in the Norwegina Sea, May 2008
Marine survival of salmon in the eastern North Atlantic has substantially declined in recent decades, yet little was known about the migratory behaviour and distribution of populations. A new genetic tagging study, just published in the international journal Fish &…
The Páirc na Mara project in Connemara included plans for a “low carbon marine innovation park”
A Connemara community group is weighing up an appeal after planning permission for a state-led marine industry park in Cill Chiaráin was rejected. As The Times Ireland edition reports, Galway County Council has refused planning approval for the Páirc na…
Bluefin tuna caught, tagged and released on 2 August 2020 in Donegal Bay by authorised tuna skipper Adrian Molloy
Anglers in Ireland are taking part in a unique ‘catch, tag and release’ programme to help Irish and international scientists learn more about the largest tuna in the world — the Atlantic bluefin tuna. Under the Tuna CHART (CatcH And…
Lambs Week features sailing around the Aran Islands with stopovers in Rossaveal, Kilronan and Roundstone.
Galway Bay Sailing Club is expecting 50 boats or more to participate in the club's August's Lambs Week event that features sailing around the Aran Islands with stopovers in Rossaveal, Kilronan and Roundstone. The event runs from August 19th to…
The EU is unveiling sweeping new legislation to help to meet its pledge to cut emissions of gases that cause global warming by 55% during this decade.
The European Commission has unveiled the world's most ambitious climate change plan which will heap pressure on Ireland to meet its plan to generate a huge part of electricity from offshore wind by 2030, while at the same time meeting…
A new NASA Earth System Observatory aims to help mitigate climate change
Space agencies in Europe and the US have signed a partnership to monitor rising sea levels and temperatures, melting ice, thawing permafrost and other impacts of climate breakdown. NASA in the US and the European Space Agency (ESA) formalised the…
Basking Shark -  scientists believe section 23 of the Wildlife Act should be amended to protect the endangered species
A flotilla is steaming up the river Liffey today in the next stage of a marine wildlife campaign to secure legal protection for basking sharks in these waters. Over 7,000 people have already voiced support for the Save Our Sharks…

For all you need on the Marine Environment - covering the latest news and updates on marine science and wildlife, weather and climate, power from the sea and Ireland's coastal regions and communities - the place to be is Afloat.ie.

Coastal Notes

The Coastal Notes category covers a broad range of stories, events and developments that have an impact on Ireland's coastal regions and communities, whose lives and livelihoods are directly linked with the sea and Ireland's coastal waters.

Topics covered in Coastal Notes can be as varied as the rare finding of sea-life creatures, an historic shipwreck with secrets to tell, or even a trawler's net caught hauling much more than just fish.

Other angles focusing the attention of Coastal Notes are Ireland's maritime museums, which are of national importance to maintaining access and knowledge of our nautical heritage, and those who harvest the sea using small boats based in harbours where infrastructure and safety pose an issue, plying their trade along the rugged wild western seaboard.

Coastal Notes tells the stories that are arguably as varied as the environment they come from, and which shape people's interaction with the natural world and our relationship with the sea.

Marine Wildlife

One of the greatest memories of any day spent boating around the Irish coast is an encounter with Marine Wildlife. It's a thrill for young and old to witness seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales right there in their own habitat. And as boaters fortunate enough to have experienced it will testify, even spotting a distant dorsal fin can be the highlight of any day afloat. Was that a porpoise? Was it a whale? No matter how brief the glimpse, it's a privilege to share the seas with Irish marine wildlife.

Thanks to our location in the North Atlantic, there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe. From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals, the Marine Wildlife category documents the most interesting accounts around our shores. And we're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and video clips, too!

Also valuable is the unique perspective of all those who go afloat, from coastal sailing to sea angling to inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing, as what they encounter can be of great importance to organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG). Thanks to their work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. But as impressive as the list is, the experts believe there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you are out on the ocean waves, keep a sharp look out!

Weather

As an island in the North Atlantic, Ireland's fate is decided by Weather more so than many other European countries. When storm-force winds race across the Irish Sea, ferry and shipping services are cut off, disrupting our economy. When swollen waves crash on our shores, communities are flooded and fishermen brace for impact - both to their vessels and to their livelihoods.

Keeping abreast of the weather, therefore, is as important to leisure cruisers and fishing crews alike - for whom a small craft warning can mean the difference between life and death - as it is to the communities lining the coast, where timely weather alerts can help protect homes and lives.

Weather affects us all, and Afloat.ie will keep you informed on the hows and the whys.

Marine Science

Perhaps it's the work of the Irish research vessels RV Celtic Explorer and RV Celtic Voyager out in the Atlantic Ocean that best highlights the essential nature of Marine Science for the future growth of Ireland's emerging 'blue economy'.

From marine research to development and sustainable management, Ireland is developing a strong and well-deserved reputation as an emerging centre of excellence. Whether it's Wavebob ocean energy technology to aquaculture to weather buoys and oil exploration, the Marine Science category documents the work of Irish marine scientists and researchers and how they have secured prominent roles in many European and international marine science bodies.

Power From The Sea

The message from the experts is clear: offshore wind and wave energy is the future. And as Ireland looks towards the potential of the renewable energy sector, generating Power From The Sea will become a greater priority in the State's 'blue growth' strategy.

Developments and activities in existing and planned projects in the pipeline from the wind and wave renewables sector, and those of the energy exploration industry, point to the future of energy requirements for the whole world, not just in Ireland. And that's not to mention the supplementary industries that sea power projects can support in coastal communities.

Irish ports are already in a good position to capitalise on investments in offshore renewable energy services. And Power From The Sea can even be good for marine wildlife if done properly.

Aside from the green sector, our coastal waters also hold a wealth of oil and gas resources that numerous prospectors are hoping to exploit, even if people in coastal and island areas are as yet unsure of the potential benefits or pitfalls for their communities.

Changing Ocean Climate

Our ocean and climate are inextricably linked - the ocean plays a crucial role in the global climate system in a number of ways. These include absorbing excess heat from the atmosphere and absorbing 30 per cent of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity. But our marine ecosystems are coming under increasing pressure due to climate change.

The Marine Institute, with its national and international partners, works to observe and understand how our ocean is changing and analyses, models and projects the impacts of our changing oceans. Advice and forecasting projections of our changing oceans and climate are essential to create effective policies and management decisions to safeguard our ocean.

Dr Paul Connolly, CEO of the Marine Institute, said, “Our ocean is fundamental to life on earth and affects so many facets of our everyday activities. One of the greatest challenges we face as a society is that of our changing climate. The strong international collaborations that the Marine Institute has built up over decades facilitates a shared focusing on our changing ocean climate and developing new and enhanced ways of monitoring it and tracking changes over time.

“Our knowledge and services help us to observe these patterns of change and identify the steps to safeguard our marine ecosystems for future generations.”

The Marine Institute’s annual ocean climate research survey, which has been running since 2004, facilitates long term monitoring of the deep water environment to the west of Ireland. This repeat survey, which takes place on board RV Celtic Explorer, enables scientists to establish baseline oceanic conditions in Irish waters that can be used as a benchmark for future changes.

Scientists collect data on temperature, salinity, water currents, oxygen and carbon dioxide in the Atlantic Ocean. This high quality oceanographic data contributes to the Atlantic Ocean Observing System. Physical oceanographic data from the survey is submitted to the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) and, in addition, the survey contributes to national research such as the VOCAB ocean acidification and biogeochemistry project, the ‘Clean Atlantic’ project on marine litter and the A4 marine climate change project.

Dr Caroline Cusack, who co-ordinates scientific activities on board the RV Celtic Explorer for the annual survey, said, “The generation of long-term series to monitor ocean climate is vital to allow us understand the likely impact of future changes in ocean climate on ecosystems and other marine resources.”

Other activities during the survey in 2019 included the deployment of oceanographic gliders, two Argo floats (Ireland’s contribution to EuroArgo) and four surface drifters (Interreg Atlantic Area Clean Atlantic project). The new Argo floats have the capacity to measure dissolved ocean and biogeochemical parameters from the ocean surface down to a depth of 2,000 metres continuously for up to four years, providing important information as to the health of our oceans.

During the 2019 survey, the RV Celtic Explorer retrieved a string of oceanographic sensors from the deep ocean at an adjacent subsurface moored station and deployed a replacement M6 weather buoy, as part of the Irish Marine Data Buoy Observation Network (IMDBON).

Funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the IMDBON is managed by the Marine Institute in collaboration with Met Éireann and is designed to improve weather forecasts and safety at sea around Ireland. The data buoys have instruments which collect weather and ocean data including wind speed and direction, pressure, air and sea surface temperature and wave statistics. This data provides vital information for weather forecasts, shipping bulletins, gale and swell warnings as well as data for general public information and research.

“It is only in the last 20 years, meteorologists and climatologists have really began to understood the pivotal role the ocean plays in determining our climate and weather,” said Evelyn Cusack, Head of Forecasting at Met Éireann. “The real-time information provided by the Irish data buoy network is particularly important for our mariners and rescue services. The M6 data buoy in the Atlantic provides vital information on swell waves generated by Atlantic storms. Even though the weather and winds may be calm around our shores, there could be some very high swells coming in from Atlantic storms.”

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