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Marine Environment, Science, wildlife, weather & Ocean energy
Blackhead Lighthouse in Carrickfergus
A Northern Ireland fisherman who landed a blue lobster last week says it was a “one in two million” shot, as Belfast Live reports. Stuart Brown made the marine wildlife discovery of his lifetime on Friday (3 February) while hauling…
Ireland’s first “hydrogen valley” will be established in Galway port
The EU is giving 8 million euros to set up Ireland’s first “hydrogen valley” in Galway port as one of nine such projects across Europe. The EU funding is a significant boost for the multi-million euro green energy scheme, which…
An Irish short film featuring communities who make a living from the sea is set to reach global audiences tonight (Tuesday, February 7th). Fair Seas: The Kingdom of Kerry has been selected for inclusion at the Festival of Ocean Films…
Coastwatch co-ordinator Karin Dubsky
Restoration is the theme of a Coastwatch event to mark UN World Wetlands Day today in Co Wexford. The one-day event will include a keynote address by Tobias Salathe of the Ramsar Convention European office in Geneva, Switzerland. Ireland currently…
Launching Ireland's first (Mission Blue) Hope Spot was Aoife O' Mahony, Campaign Manager for Fair Seas, and Lucy Hunt (right), Founder of SeaSynergy, at Waterville, Co. Kerry
A large stretch of ocean off the south west coast of Ireland has been added to a list of ‘Hope Spots’ by a global marine conservation movement. Mission Blue is led by legendary oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle and now has…
Castletownbere Fishery Harbour Centre, where €5.1m will be invested in 2023 including the Dinish Wharf Works
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD, today announced the allocation of €37.3m for capital projects in 2023 in Ireland’s six state-owned Fishery Harbour Centres at Killybegs, Ros an Mhíl, An Daingean, Castletownbere, Dunmore East and Howth…
Apply now for the Marine Institute’s Summer Bursary Scholarship Programme 2023
The Marine Institute continues to invest in the next generation of ocean professionals through the 2023 Summer Bursary Scholarship Programme, which provides third-level students with work experience across several marine areas. The Bursary Scholarship Programme has been running for more…
Organisers of “TedFest” on Inis Mór in early March promise a “Priests Dance Off
The Aran islands’ “TedFest” has sold out several months before it kicks off on Inis Mór in early March. Organisers of the celebration of one of Ireland’s best-loved television shows advise people not to travel to Inis Mór unless they…
Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU)
Ireland has been referred to the European Court of Justice for failing to transpose the Water Framework directive into national law correctly. The directive provides a framework for protecting inland and coastal waters and groundwater by preventing pollution and protecting…
Energia logo
Energia intends to deploy marine acoustic monitoring equipment off the coasts of Co Waterford and Co Wexford between now and 24 February, subject to weather and operational constraints. The deployments are part of works for Energia’s North Celtic Sea and…
“The smaller inshore vessels that work from the hundreds of piers dotted along the rugged Irish coastline are the beating heart of rural coastal communities,” say the National Inshore Fishermen's Association
The National Inshore Fishermen’s Association (NIFA) has warmly welcomed its recognition as an EU seafood producer organisation (PO). The sanction by Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue was hailed by NIFA chair Michael Desmond. Desmond said it came after a “long battle”…
The Achill Island RNLI Lifeboat 'Sam and Ada Moody'
Achill Island RNLI went to the assistance of a man on Clare Island off the coast of County Mayo, requiring medical evacuation on Monday, 23 January. The request from the Irish Coast Guard was the first call out for the…
A white-tailed sea eagle which was brought to Ireland as a chick from Norway was poisoned, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has confirmed. The bird had been a healthy juvenile male but was found dead on lands between…
The former Aran Islands ferry Naomh Eanna listing heavily on Saturday inher berth off Dublin's Grand Canal Basin
The long saga of the future of the former Galway to Aran Islands ferry ship Naomh Eanna entered a new chapter during the recent cold snap, when she began to take on a list through the ingress of water into…
Internal waves off Northern Trinidad this image was taken from the International Space Station
What do the Loch Ness monster, the El Nino effect and dead water at sea have in common? All may be associated with internal waves, a phenomenon of wave motion in which Dr David Henry of the School of Mathematical…
A 50kg adult female loggerhead turtle was discovered in December 2021 on Muighinis Beach near Carna in Connemara in a comatose state. The turtle never regained consciousness and died despite the best efforts of Galway Atlantaquaria staff
Concern has been expressed over reports of endangered loggerhead turtles washing up on Irish and British shores in recent days, as BreakingNews.ie reports. The remains of a deceased loggerhead turtle were found at Port Glais in Co Mayo over the…

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.”