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Hopes for Evidence of Coral Reefs in Irish Sea

11th October 2012
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Hopes for Evidence of Coral Reefs in Irish Sea

#MARINE WILDLIFE - Might there be evidence of coral reefs in the Irish Sea? Johnny Woodlock of the Irish Seal Sanctuary believes so.

Writing for Wildlife Extra, the Sea Fishery Advisory Group member recalls seeing a piece of coral that a former commercial trawler skipper said he had found in one of this nets more than 20 years ago while fishing off the Isle of Man.

Woodlock says he identified the sample as Lophelia pertusa, a coldwater coral that thrives in deeper water and one that was not previously linked to the Irish Sea, according to the records of the Marine Institute and the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Then this past August, when Woodlock uncovered a similar piece of coral and identified it as the same species, he was able to find out the co-ordinates where both pieces had been netted and forwarded them to the Marine Institute.

Though the area of the Irish Sea in question "has been heavily trawled by larger boats pulling heavier nets for a number of years", Woodlock remains hopeful that the Marine Institute can find evidence of living coral in the depths.

Often mistaken for plant life, coral is actually a compact colony of very simple marine wildlife called polyps, encased in a skeleton of calcium carbonate which gives them their solid appearance.

Published in Marine Wildlife
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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Marine Wildlife Around Ireland 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. 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 the location of our beautiful little island, perched in the North Atlantic Ocean there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe.

From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals this page documents the most interesting accounts of marine wildlife around our shores. We're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and youtube clips.

Boaters have a unique perspective and all those who go afloat, from inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing that what they encounter can be of real value to specialist organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) who compile a list of sightings and strandings. The IWDG knowledge base has increased over the past 21 years thanks in part at least to the observations of sailors, anglers, kayakers and boaters.

Thanks to the IWDG work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. Here's the current list: Atlantic white-sided dolphin, beluga whale, blue whale, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, Cuvier's beaked whale, false killer whale, fin whale, Gervais' beaked whale, harbour porpoise, humpback whale, killer whale, minke whale, northern bottlenose whale, northern right whale, pilot whale, pygmy sperm whale, Risso's dolphin, sei whale, Sowerby's beaked whale, sperm whale, striped dolphin, True's beaked whale and white-beaked dolphin.

But as impressive as the species list is the IWDG believe there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you are out on the ocean waves keep a sharp look out!

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