Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

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: Foyle & Carlingford Ambassasors

In late October and early November, Foyle College became the latest and final school to complete the 2023 Foyle and Carlingford Ambassador Programme after a week of engagement and educational workshops across the Foyle catchment area.

On the Monday, 21 students from Foyle College were welcomed to the Loughs Agency in Prehen, making them the first school group invited to the agency by the Education Team since before the pandemic.

In the afternoon, the group were given talks and demonstrations from Diego del Villar and Kieran Byrne on some of the work they do for the agency, including acoustic telemetry, marine life tracking and water quality monitoring.

The day finished off with some map workshops with the group on the Foyle catchment, allowing them to get more familiar with the agency’s jurisdiction and the areas they would be visiting throughout the week.

Foyle College Ambassadors learn about the Lough Agency’s work at its HQ in PrehenFoyle College Ambassadors learn about the Lough Agency’s work at its HQ in Prehen

Tuesday saw the Education Team join up with FROG Outdoor Education at a crisp but sunny Moyagh Fishery to give the Ambassadors an opportunity to try coarse fishing and receive coaching from professional angling guides. Over 200 fish were caught, with some participants catching over 20 roach individually.

Ambassadors were taught how to safely catch and release the fish once caught, and afterwards received their Level One Cast Award. Some Ambassadors expressed an interest in taking up fishing and were subsequently given details of local angling clubs within the area.

The Ambassadors tried out coarse fishing with FROG Outdoor Education at a crisp but sunny Moyagh FisheryThe Ambassadors tried out coarse fishing with FROG Outdoor Education at a crisp but sunny Moyagh Fishery

On Wednesday, the Ambassadors made the trip from their school to Ness Woods for a day of river and woodland habitat studies. Fisheries inspector Jason McCartney discussed his role in the Loughs Agency and the work that goes on within the Conservation and Protection Directorate. He showed the group some native oysters, seized nets and key equipment such as thermal cameras.

The group of 21 pupils were then split into two groups and given different tasks in the late morning. The first group carried out practice kick samples and macroinvertebrate identification to help indicate the overall water quality of the river. The second carried out key weather observations that need noted when carrying out a freshwater survey, as well as learning all about the biodiversity within the woodlands.

Afterwards the group participated in a game based around the migration of the Atlantic salmon, eventually switching tasks and partaking in each other’s activities.

In the afternoon the two groups were brought together to carry out CSSI macroinvertebrate surveys, giving the river an overall score of ‘Good’ water quality. The Ambassadors loved getting in the water while learning about the waterways and how the Loughs Agency monitor the health of the rivers.

Foyle College Ambassadors were engaged in river and woodland habitat studies in Ness WoodsFoyle College Ambassadors were engaged in river and woodland habitat studies in Ness Woods

Thursday was a coastal exploration Day on Benone Beach, with the Ambassadors getting the chance to investigate the marine biodiversity washed up along the coastline and carrying out a litter pick.

A coastal exploration workshop in the afternoon saw the Ambassadors find everything from shore crab carapaces, diverse ranges of seaweeds and shells, shark and ray egg cases, welk eggs and much more.

Ambassadors then learned how to identify many of the marine species, and most importantly, how to gently and safely handle and minimise disturbance, returning anything that’s found back to its natural place.

The day was finished off with the Ambassadors creating some fantastic beach art from the sand, shells and any other natural materials they could find.

The students explored marine biodiversity on Benone BeachThe students explored marine biodiversity on Benone Beach

There was a quick change of plan on Friday, meaning the Ambassadors ended up on a trip to Magilligan Point.

The Ambassadors started off with a quick litter pick to clean the beach before taking a walk through the dunes to the Martello tower, where Michael talked of the importance of the structure for the defence of the River Foyle in the 1800s.

Magilligan Point was the perfect location to talk about the Foyle system and the flows out towards the Atlantic Ocean. The group then discussed everything they had learned over the previous five days.

In the afternoon, to mark the end of the week, several team-building games took place, allowing the group some free time on the beach with some of the Ambassadors rock pooling, playing football and some even ‘sunbathing’.

The week ended with a trip to Magilligan PointThe week ended with a trip to Magilligan Point

Overall, this was a fantastic week, where Loughs Agency staff witnessed a growth in confidence, the overcoming of fears and a new awareness and interest in local ecosystems being developed among the participants.

There were great conversations around environmental awareness, discussions on everyday life as a teenager and honest revelations on prospects. For many of the Ambassadors, this was their first experience in these types of outdoor locations, further emphasising the importance of open-air environmental education. The hope is that this experience has planted many seeds for future decision making when it comes to protecting and conserving the natural world.

The Loughs Agency offers a huge thank you to everyone who helped in the delivery of the programme, staff members Diego, Kieran and Jason for their time and efforts, and especially all the Ambassadors who took part in the Foyle and Carlingford Ambassador Programme.

The Loughs Agency will begin recruitment in the new year for the Foyle & Carlingford 2024 schools programme and early spring for the summer programme. If your school is interested in taking part, get in touch with [email protected].

Published in Environment

Following July’s programme of events, the Foyle & Carlingford Ambassador summer programme was completed after a week of engaging and educational workshops across the Carlingford catchment this August.

Young people signed up from across the catchment to take part. A highly rewarding week witnessed a growth in confidence, fears being overcome and connections and friendships developing among all Ambassadors, making for lots of great memories.

A major aim of outdoor environmental education interventions is to provide individuals with the opportunity of knowing relevant facts about the ecological processes of natural environments, connecting visually, physically and emotionally, which can lead to development of positive attitudes and behaviours toward environmental preservation.

Summer programme participants visit the shoreline of Carlingford Lough for a study of the area’s marine biodiversitySummer programme participants visit the shoreline of Carlingford Lough for a study of the area’s marine biodiversity

The week began with an introductory day at Newry Leisure Centre with a hike to Cloughmore Stone near Rostrevor and a magnificent view over Carlingford Lough.

Day two brought an angling CAST Taster with the Foyle River catchment Outdoor Group (FROG) at Camlough, while day three took the Ambassadors to Fairy Glen/Kilbroney Park for a study of the river habitat and freshwater ecosystems as well as a Q&A session with a fishery officer and an electrofishing demonstration.

Day four took place on the Carlingford shoreline with an exploration of local marine biodiversity and ocean literacy, including a litter pick and a primer on safety at the shore.

Omagh Academy pupils get an an angling CAST Taster with the Foyle River catchment Outdoor Group (FROG) at Birchwood FisheryOmagh Academy pupils get an an angling CAST Taster with the Foyle River catchment Outdoor Group (FROG) at Birchwood Fishery

Wilderness survival was the theme of the fifth and final day, with various challenges and team-building exercises helping those participating to complete the requirements for the John Muir Discover Award.

Elsewhere and more recently, the schools programme saw Omagh Academy — the first school in the Omagh area to take part — engaged in workshops across the Foyle catchment, with Ambassadors ages 12-14 building up environmental knowledge, skills and awareness for the outdoors, focusing on the role the Loughs Agency plays in conserving and protecting local waterways.

Omagh Academy pupils took in Strule Arts Centre, angling at Birchwood Fishery in Drumquin, Gortin Glen Forest Part for habitat study, the coastal environment at Benone Beach and Gortin Activity Centre for team-building.

Year 10 students at Gaelcholáiste Dhoire get their surf on at Benone BeachYear 10 students at Gaelcholáiste Dhoire get their surf on at Benone Beach

In late September, students from Year 10 at Gaelcholáiste Dhoire completed their first Foyle & Carlingford Ambassador schools programme during the week Storm Agnes hit the UK and Ireland.

Benone Beach was also on their itinerary, for a day of surfing, as was Cashel Lake Trout Fishery for a morning of angling before the weather took a turn. A river habitat study at Roe Valley Country park was postponed to the following week, where certificates were also awarded to all the participating Ambassadors.

The Loughs Agency will begin recruitment in the new year for the Foyle & Carlingford 2024 schools programme and early spring for the summer programme. If your school is interested in taking part, get in touch with [email protected].

Published in Environment

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

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!


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 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.”