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A Harbour Seal photographed at Dun Laoghaire Marina on Dublin Bay, Ireland. Also known as the common seal, is a true seal found along temperate and Arctic marine coastlines of the Northern Hemisphere. The most widely distributed species of pinnipeds, they are found in coastal waters of the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans, Baltic and North seas. Photo: AfloatA photograph of a Harbour Seal taken at Dun Laoghaire Marina on Dublin Bay, Ireland. Also known as the common seal, this species can be found along temperate and Arctic marine coastlines throughout the Northern Hemisphere. They are the most widely distributed species of pinnipeds and can be found in the coastal waters of the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans, as well as the Baltic and North Seas. Photo: Afloat

Displaying items by tag: Dragon

The annual October Freshwater Keelboat Regatta at Dromineer, (hosted by Lough Derg Yacht Club and staged last weekend) has been no stranger to hyper-strong winds in times past. But in 2021's unusually gentle Autumn, it provided two to three days of very usable sailing breezes, mostly from the southwest. And if the sun tended not to put in an appearance until late afternoon despite the high-pressure area moving over the country, a least it provided welcome brightness when it did show up for the healthy outdoor prize-giving ceremonies.

LDYC Commodore Joe Gilmartin and his team, led by Honorary Sailing Secretary Fergal Keating, welcomed a strong fleet across four keelboat classes, with John Leech serving as Race Officer for the Dragon and SB20 area, while Liam Moloney looked after the Squibs and Flying Fifteens. All classes had sufficient numbers for good racing among boats which had come from many parts of Ireland. But it was the Squibs, currently on a roll and further buoyed by the prospect of the big championship – effectively the Squib Worlds – in Kinsale next June, which were in a league of their own, with a pandemic-defying turnout of 29 boats representing most Irish centres, and including a couple of cross-channel challengers.

Regatta time at Lough Derg Yacht ClubRegatta time at Lough Derg Yacht Club

Morning promise of a good day's racing as the breeze comes whispering in – Dragons, Squibs and SB20s in Dromineer HarbourMorning promise of a good day's racing as the breeze comes whispering in – Dragons, Squibs and SB20s in Dromineer Harbour

The Squibs had the biggest fleet, and here Slipstream (102, Robert Marshall & Neil Logan, Killyleagh YC) leads from Fuggles (Sean & Paul Murphy, Kinsale YC).The Squibs had the biggest fleet, and here Slipstream (102, Robert Marshall & Neil Logan, Killyleagh YC) leads from Fuggles (Sean & Paul Murphy, Kinsale YC).

Part of the Squibs' attraction is that they're not afraid to move away from standard white hulls, and LDYC Honorary Sailing Secretary Fergal Keating's Bodacious (crewed by David Maher) has had a particularly attractive paint job.Part of the Squibs' attraction is that they're not afraid to move away from standard white hulls, and LDYC Honorary Sailing Secretary Fergal Keating's Bodacious (crewed by David Maher) has had a particularly attractive paint job.

Part of the Squib's growing success lies in their entertaining and informative Irish Squib Forum, and its recently-posted enthusiastic response to the Lough Derg event by Fiona Sugrue-Ward of the Kinsale fleet joyfully captures the flavour of the class and the place and the pace very well indeed:

Lough Derg Yacht Club was the venue for the final Regional Squib Event of 2021. A bumper turnout of 29 Squibs raced in the Freshwater event, and it is great to see such numbers on the start line. The Fleet love going to Lough Derg, and as always the Club ran a super event, both on and off the water.

With six races held over the two days, conditions on the lake were almost perfect with southwesterlies averaging 10-12 knots making racing fair across the racecourse. There were 5 different individual race winners leading to a final race where any one of eight Squib combinations could have won outright.

Racing had been really close and placings up and down the fleet were impossible totally on the spot. When the numbers were finally crunched in the Race Office, it was Quickstep from Cultra with a consistent top and finishes and one race win which danced to overall victory with the Royal North of Ireland's Gordon Patterson and Ross Nolan.

Sunshine finally breaking through – Fantome (730 Fergus O'Kelly & Ronan MacDonnell, Howth YC) chasing Granat (David Stewart & Brian Hare, Royal Irish & Royal Dee YCs)Sunshine finally breaking through – Fantome (730 Fergus O'Kelly & Ronan MacDonnell, Howth YC) chasing Granat (David Stewart & Brian Hare, Royal Irish & Royal Dee YCs)

Bookending the weekend with wins in Race 1 and 6, Kinsale's Outlaw 785 secured 2nd overall for Ian Travers and Keith O'Riordan. Local Squib Femme Fatale 24, with Lough Derg's Joe O Byrne and Vincent Delany helming, went for 3rd overall.

Other notable mentions must go to race winners Toy for the Boys, Fantome and Firecracker. The fleet were delighted to have overseas visitors in Squib 11 with Pam and Dick Batt, and a Welsh Dragon was welcomed flying over Lil Quickie with Tudor Roberts and Ieuan Williams.

A fleet of 29 is a fabulous end to the 2021 Squib season, the close racing amongst the fleet makes for great events. The Class are already planning and looking forward to next year with Regional events and of course the combined UK & Irish National Squib Championships in Kinsale.

Squib Results Here

Volante is another boat from Killyleagh on Strangford Lough – sailed by Simon Watson & "Jordy", she place eighth overall. Volante is another boat from Killyleagh on Strangford Lough – sailed by Simon Watson & "Jordy", she place eighth overall. 

The overall format for the Freshwater Keelboat Regatta is the Dragons do three days starting on the Friday while the SB20s, Flying Fifteens and Squibs do two. But whatever your programme, the social highlight is the dinner on the Saturday night, an epic event even by the legendary hospitality standards of Lough Derg Yacht Club, which has been honing its hosting skills since 1835.

LOUGH DERG BOAT WINS SB20s

While there was convivial inter-class mingling, after the past 18 months of pandemic limitations, inevitably there were close-knit celebrations within classes that had seen little enough of each other since March 2020. The festive levels were notably high in the SB20s, where John Malone of Lough Ree Yacht Club was Presiding over his last on-water event, having served as top honcho with success despite lockdown limits, with the SB20s making a special effort to take their class message wherever and whenever it was permissible and welcome.

LDYC Commodore Joe Gilmartin (right) with Andrew Deakin's winning SB20 crew which included Aoife (11) and Claire (9).LDYC Commodore Joe Gilmartin (right) with Andrew Deakin's winning SB20 crew which included Aoife (11) and Clara (9).

This has been partially in anticipation of the Worlds being in Dun Laoghaire with the Royal Irish Yacht Club in 2022. But equally, there was a determination to make the best of the here and now with commendable attention to detail, which is one race saw the President taking time out to check the mooring lines on one of the race marks, unselfishly sacrificing what would have been a good result in Race 3 in order to do so.

SB20 President John Malone taking his Presidential duties very seriously with the time-honoured inspection of race mark moorings…..SB20 President John Malone taking his Presidential duties very seriously with the time-honoured inspection of race mark moorings…..

……which is a ritual process, and done very thoroughly……which is a ritual process, and done very thoroughly

Even with that, he and his crew of Emmet Sheridan and Alex Leech got to the 7th and final race well in contention for the win against the host club's Andrew Deakin crewed by Brian & Colm McElligott after notching victory in Race 6. But as the President candidly admits, they were having such lovely sailing that they failed to do the strategic calculations on how to conduct a cunning final race, and the Deakin boat Sonic Boom – whose crew betimes included Oppie sailors Aoife (11) and Clara (9) - took the bullet and the series one point ahead of El Presidente.

SB20 Result here

Things are looking rather better for the outgoing SB20 President, nicely placed in 3040, but in the end he was second by one point. Things are looking rather better for the outgoing SB20 President, nicely placed in 3040, but in the end he was second by one point. 

CARRICKFERGUS & CONNEMARA DOMINATE FLYING FIFTEENS

The Flying Fifteens in Ireland have a fascinating development with a seriously-raced class taking hold in the heart of Connemara in the strongholds of the ancient Galway Bay traditional boats. It all started quite far back with older boats brought down by families for holiday sailing, but as our report on the Cong-Galway Race down Lough Corrib this year revealed, the far sailing waters of Connacht now include some hot newer craft of all types. The Fifteens are reflecting this, with Niall & Ronan O'Brien of FF Chonamara turning up at Dromineer with Buckfast and competing to such good effect that they took second in a fleet of ten.

Flying Fifteens on the run, Squibs on the beatFlying Fifteens on the run, Squibs on the beat

Their scoreline included a couple of firsts, but it was Belfast Lough sailors Trevor D'Arcy and Alan McClernon of Carrickfergus who were on top of their game with three first and a second and fourth to win by one point, while Alan Green and David Mulvin of the NYC in Dun Laoghaire were third after notching best results of a first and two seconds.

Flying Fifteen results here

LITTLE FELLA WINS TIE BREAK IN DRAGONS

It doesn't do to rush the final few miles down the winding road to Dromineer from Nenagh with an International Dragon in tow, for it's a boreen which might have been set up with Advanced Towing Driving Tests in mind. But at least the boats which came from Dun Laoghaire had motorway most of the way until Nenagh, whereas the hotshots from Kinsale had to contend with some of those nationally-notorious bottlenecks on the Cork-Limerick road before getting anywhere near their destination

This may have sharpened their determination to succeed once they got the fresh air of Lough Derg in their lungs, and with their elite three-day programme providing eight races, it came right down to the wire between two Kinsale boats, with Brian Goggin's Serafina and Cameron Good's Little Fella both on 17 points.

Dragons finding some sunshine on the run, with eventual overall winner Little Fella (211, Cameron Good KYC, left) making a successful break for it.Dragons finding some sunshine on the run, with eventual overall winner Little Fella (211, Cameron Good KYC, left) making a successful break for it.

However, 2021 is Little Fella's year, and she added another title by winning the tie-break, with third place going to Peter Bowring of Royal St George YC in Dun Laoghaire with Phantom.

International Dragon Results here

The season is by no means completely over on Lough Derg, but there's no doubting that this year's successful Freshwater Keelboat marks a significant changing of the pace, with a distinct change in the weather now upon us to emphasise this. It's really anybody's guess what the country has to go through during the coming winter, but down Dromineer way they're already thinking of the bright weather of next summer. For in addition to its busy home programme and of course the Freshwater Keelboat Regatta in October (date is October 15th-16th, put it in the diary now), Lough Derg Yacht Club is hosting the Fireball Worlds 2022 from August 20th to 26th.

Autumn is well upon us – evening sunlight at DromineerAutumn is well upon us – evening sunlight at Dromineer

Published in Inland Waterways

Lough Derg Yacht Club in County Tipperary will welcome one design visitors back to Dromineer for the Keelboat regatta on the weekend of 15th to 17th of October.

Four fleets are expected to the lake, with the biggest likely to be the Squibs, according to Derg's Joe O'Byrne.

The distinctive mace-colour sailed fleet expects a 30 boat entry to include Northern Ireland, England, Kinsale and Howth boats to compete against a growing local fleet.

The SB20s who recently competed on Lough Ree are moving to Derg for their final event of the year, and a fleet of 18 is expected in the last event of 2021 before staging the world championships in Ireland on Dublin Bay in 2022.

LDYC PRO John Leech - two race areas for the keelboat regattaLDYC PRO John Leech - two race areas for the keelboat regatta

Lough Derg Yacht Club says it expects the Flying Fifteens will also be travelling, and estimates from the Dun Laoghaire fleet say up to a dozen will attend.

Up to a dozen Flying Fifteens are expected on Lough DergUp to a dozen Flying Fifteens are expected on Lough Derg

The Dragons will have competitors from Kinsale and Dublin.

The club has arranged a lift in/lift-out on-site, and, O'Byrne says, this will significantly assist the logistics for competitors.

LDYC PRO John Leech and his team have split the four fleets over two separate race areas.

Published in Inland Waterways

Dublin-Belfast Dragon keelboat trio of Martin Byrne, Adam Winkelmann and John Simms sailing Jaguar at the Portuguese National Championship 2021 were in first place in the final race of the championships when the wind died on Sunday.

It took several attempts to get the race started due to a very shifty and patchy sea breeze and when it got underway, the wind continued to play tricks.

Jaguar was in first place at weather mark but both Jaguar and the regatta leader were then left parked at the leeward gate and the backmarkers were able to take right-hand buoy and stay in the fickle breeze on the final beat to finish. Jaguar and regatta lead boat was scored 'DNF' as they failed to escape the hole at the port buoy.

The event was effectively turned on its head in one race that was unsuccessfully protested by the regatta leader who in turn lost first place in the 11-boat fleet. 

"Great sailing albeit in challenging conditions for competitors and race management", according to the Irish crew. 

The Dublin Bay entry dropped to fifth overall. Results are here

Published in Dragon
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It was a tough second day for Dublin-Belfast Dragon keelboat trio of Martin Byrne, Adam Winkelmann and John Simms sailing Jaguar at the Portuguese National Championship 2021 after four races sailed. 

The Dublin Bay entry has dropped to third overall with quite a points gap to second place overall now developed.

Conditions were far shiftier today than in the opening races for the 11-boat fleet. 

Overall leaders (with two wins and two seconds) at Villamoura are Pedro Mendes Leal, Jorge Ferlov and Pedro Rebelo de Andrade of Cascais. 

Three races are scheduled tomorrow. Results are here

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A Dublin-Belfast Dragon keelboat trio of Martin Byrne, Adam Winkelmann and John Simms sailing Jaguar are lying second overall at the Portuguese National Championship 2021 after two races sailed. 

The Dublin Bay entry broke a spinnaker pole in race one but still finished second. They led the second race until the last leg where they were caught out by a right shift at the top end of the beat.

Conditions have been excellent so far in wind and sunshine for the opening races of the 11-boat fleet. 

Overall leaders (with two wins) at Villamoura are Pedro Mendes Leal, Jorge Ferlov and Pedro Rebelo de Andrade of Cascais. 

Racing continues. Results are here

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Not for the first time, the super-consistent team of Neil Hegarty, David Williams and the evergreen Peter Bowring won the Dragon Irish National Championships in Kinsale YC over the weekend.

In a stunning series, they opened their account with three straight bullets and kept it steady after that to wrap up their series with a 4 point winning margin.

"Phantom" flew her 100% North Sails inventory which consisted of her A7+ mainsail, MH-8H genoa and CD-5 spinnaker.

2nd overall - Ghost IRL 1812nd overall - Ghost IRL 181 Photo: Bob Bateman

2nd overall was Colm Dunne, sailing with Colm Daly and Daniel McCloskey, in his new Dragon "Ghost". Colm split the tie-break with Brian Goggin, Daniel Murphy, Sean Murphy, and John O'Connor on "Serafina" (also 100% powered by North Sails) by virtue of winning two races to the one race won by "Serafina!".

Serafina IRL 1803rd overall - Serafina IRL 180 Photo: Bob Bateman

Talk about TIGHT racing!

Colm and his team only took delivery of the boat this year and this, coupled with their new North Sails inventory of their A14 mainsail, v6-M genoa and R9 spinnaker made them a new force in the class.

Congratulations to all the Dragon fleet on yet another great event by all accounts. The class looks like it's on the rebound and all of us here at North Sails are delighted to be a part of that.

Sail FAST.

Published in North Sails Ireland

The final race of the championship decided the top four places overall of the O'Leary Life Irish Dragon Nationals at Kinsale with Dublin Bay sailors Peter Bowring, Neil Hegarty and David Williams taking the title.

The race was sailed in a consistent 10 knots of breeze from the southeast with a swell.

After a general recall, the fleet started on the U flag.

At the end of the first run, the top four, Serafina, Phantom, Ghost and Little Fella, arrived at the gate only seconds apart and again chose different sides. After rounding the windward mark the second time and while Phantom, Serafina and Little Fella were covering each other on the left side of the run, Ghost came down the right side, took advantage of a slight wind shift and established a substantial lead.

Runners up - Serafina - Daniel & Sean Murphy, Brian Goggin & John O'ConnorThird overall Serafina - Daniel & Sean Murphy, Brian Goggin & John O'Connor

Fourth overall - Cameron Good, Simon Furney & Henry Kingston Photo: Bob BatemanFourth overall - Cameron Good, Simon Furney & Henry Kingston Photo: Bob Bateman

On the final beat, Ghost chose to sail up the middle of the course, followed by Phantom and Serafina while Little Fella went up the right side. Ghost could not be caught and took line honours. Little Fella took advantage of a good lift to recover from 5th to 2nd. Phantom's 3rd, however, was enough to secure Peter Bowring, Neil Hegarty and David Williams the title, Serafina came 4th.

With Phantom, the National Champion, 2nd to 4th ended on 16 points each, and it went to countback. Two wins were enough to secure Ghost - Colm Dunne, Colm Daly & Dan McCloskey 2nd overall with Serafina - Daniel & Sean Murphy, Brian Goggin & John O'Connor in 3rd. Little Fella - Cameron Good, Simon Furney & Henry Kingston had to settle for 4th.

Dragon prizewinners at Kinsale Yacht ClubDragon prizewinners at Kinsale Yacht Club Photo courtesy of Matthias Hellstern

Click here for results. See photo galleries here and day two here

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Neil Hegarty, Peter Bowring and David Williams in Phantom held on to the overall lead during Day three of the O'Leary Life Irish Dragon National Championships.

14 knots of easterly wind and a reduced swell made for near-perfect sailing conditions.

The Royal St. George Phantom was caught OCS in race 5, restarted, and sailed a tactically perfect race to come second. Local boat Ghost took the lead on the first run by coming down the right-hand side of the course. They held on to the lead to take first. Serafina with the Murphy brothers and Brian Goggin secured third.

Race 6 started with slightly lighter winds of 8 – 10 knots. Serafina and Little Fella were jockeying for first place; Serafina held them off and took line honours. Phantom and Ghost were tick tacking for third – Ghost got ahead, leaving Phantom in fourth.
Nothing is certain in the top four places, so the Irish National Dragon Champion 2021 and second and third will be decided in the final race. Testament to the close racing enjoyed over the last three days.

Click here for results. See photo galleries here and day two here

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Two wins for the Royal St. George Yacht Club's Phantom skippered by Neil Hegarty put the Dublin Bay Dragon crew in the lead after day two of the class national championships in Kinsale in County Cork.

After four races sailed (and no discard), Hegarty, sailing with Peter Bowring and David Williams, has three race wins to his credit, giving the Dublin trio a four-point margin over day one leader Cameron Good of the host club. 

Brian Goggin's Serafina, also of Kinsale, is third overall. 

Lighter conditions than the first day led Race Officer John Stallard to make the decision to shorten the race at the end of the second run in race four. MarJ, Adrian Bendon KYC, secured second with Serafina 3rd and Ghost 4th.

With a discard due to kick in tomorrow, three races are left in the championship and light airs are forecast.

Results are here

Dragon Irish Nationals Day two Photo Gallery by Bob Bateman

Published in Dragon
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Local ace Cameron Good leads a fleet of 15 after day one of the O’Leary Life Irish Dragon Championship at Kinsale Yacht Club.

Race 1 got underway with an easterly wind blowing 16 – 18 knots and a 2-metre swell making for heavy conditions.

The local KYC fleet dominated from the off with TBD, James Matthews KYC, in the lead followed closely by Little Fella, Cameron Good KYC, hot on their heels. Serafina, Brian Goggin KYC, was 3rd with a newcomer to the fleet, Ghost, Colm Dunne in 4th.

Aphrodite from Glandore Harbour Sailing Club retired following a MOB incident with the crew recovered safe and well.

Race 2 and TBD was pushing the line at the start resulting in them being OCS and by the time they were able to return to restart they had lost a lot of time. However, they managed to catch the fleet and ended up with a 9th. Phantom, Neil Hegarty RStGYC, had a good start and stayed ahead of Little Fella to take line honours, Little Fella was 2nd, Ghost was 3rd and Serafina 4th.

Today ended with Little Fella lying in first place with 4 points, Phantom has 6 and Serafina and Ghost each have 7.

The heavy conditions suited some boats today, but it is early in the championship and there are lighter conditions forecast for tomorrow which may suit more of the fleet.

Results are here 

Dragon Nationals Photo Gallery Day One By Bob Bateman

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Page 8 of 28

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.”