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Galway Atlantaquaria Hosts talks for World Oceans Day

8th June 2022
World Oceans Day - The June 8th date was designated by the United Nations
World Oceans Day - The June 8th date was designated by the United Nations

The "underwater treasure" around over 3,000 km of Irish coastline is the theme of three talks hosted by Galway Atlantaquaria to mark World Oceans Day.

As Dr Noirín Burke of Galway Atlantaquaria says, Ireland can “boast an incredible range of different underwater environments and a diversity of marine life that is still mostly unknown - although 40% of the Irish population lives within five kilometres of the sea”.

“There is probably no better day to celebrate this underwater treasure than World Oceans Day,” she says.

The June 8th date was designated by the United Nations to “acknowledge our world’s shared ocean and our personal connection to the sea, as well as to raise awareness about the crucial role the ocean plays in our lives and the important ways people can help protect it”, she says.

Three speakers booked by Galway Atlantaquria will offer three very different perspectives of marine management, citizen science and biodiscovery - all with the same focus of conservation.

Tony O’Callaghan, will give an overview of the activities carried on by Seasearch Ireland, which he co-ordinates.

Seasearch involves divers and snorkelers who have an interest in what they’re seeing underwater, want to learn more and want to help protect the marine environment around the coasts of Ireland and Britain.

Volunteers involved in its citizen science projects map out various types of sea bed found in the near-shore zone around the island to establish “the richest sites for marine life, the sites where there are problems and the sites which need protection”.

Also speaking is Sibéal Regan, education and outreach officer with the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG).

The IWDG is also involved in the Fair Seas campaign, initiated by a number of leading national environmental organisations and networks to campaign for rapid expansion of marine protected areas in Irish Waters, with a target of at least 10% of Irish waters to be designated as “fully protected' by 2025 and at least 30% by 2030.

Regan will focus on the new report, entitled “Revitalising Our Seas, Identifying Areas of Interest for Marine Protected Area Designation in Irish Waters”, which Fair Seas will release on World Oceans Day.

The final speaker is Sam Afoullouss, PhD student at NUI Galway’s marine biodiscovery laboratory.

He will describe the variety of underwater environments that can be found around Ireland, from the rich kelp forests in shallow waters to the flourishing coral gardens in the ocean’s darkest depths, and will speak about a “still untapped medicinal potential”.

Having given a highly successful TED talk at the end of last year, Afoullouss will “dive into the science behind natural remedies”.

He will also explain why the ocean's “great and still largely unexplored biodiversity is ideal for deriving and inspiring future treatments, but only if we protect its waters and life”.

The marine talks are free, from 7pm to 8.30pm on Wednesday June 8th at Galway Atlantaquaria, and booking is essential on

Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Search and Rescue: True stories of Irish Air-Sea Rescues and the Loss of R116 (2022); Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004); and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010). She is also co-producer with Sarah Blake of the Doc on One "Miracle in Galway Bay" which recently won a Celtic Media Award

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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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