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Displaying items by tag: marine science

Open water swimmers at Galway's Blackrock tower tend to swim east, but scientists would love it if they sometimes swam west – weather permitting.

That’s an area rich in seagrass in Galway Bay, and one of a number of habitats that are of particular interest.

The snake-like grass which moves hypnotically with the waves and grows in meadows in certain coastal areas is an "indicator organism”.

Dr Noirin Burke of Galway AtlantaquariaDr Noirin Burke of Galway Atlantaquaria

That means it is a type of “underwater canary in the coal mine”, which can signify the health of a marine ecosystem.

Seagrass (Zostera noltil)Seagrass (Zostera noltil)

Coastal walkers are being asked to report any signs of seagrass they may find to help complete Ireland’s map of its locations.

Dr Jonathan Lefcheck of University of MarylandDr Jonathan Lefcheck of University of Maryland

Galway Atlantaquaria’s Dr Noirín Burke took Wavelengths for a paddle to explain more, and Dr Jonathan Lefcheck of the University of Maryland, who visited Ireland last year, also gave some background on its significance and why citizen science can help.

Published in Wavelength Podcast

Tributes have been paid to the late Professor Ray Bates, a leading Irish and international meteorologist who was from a well-known Co Wexford family involved in fishing and marine science.

Met Éireann has said he was a pioneer in several fields, and a “respected and influential voice in the scientific community”.

As The Sunday Independent reports, he had spearheaded new models for computer forecasting systems which won him an award from US space agency NASA.

A former assistant director at Met Éireann, who subsequently worked at NASA, Denmark’s Niels Bohr Institute and University College, Dublin (UCD), he latterly encountered opposition from scientists and climate activists over his challenge to the consensus view on the level of threat posed by climate change.

The eldest of eight, he was born in Kilmore Quay, Co Wexford, 1940, to fishing skipper Willie Bates and Margaret Alice Walsh. His siblings became immersed in fishing, marine science and the offshore sectors, while he studied physics, after winning a gold medal from St Peter’s College in Wexford.

He graduated from UCD in 1962 with a first class honours, having worked with his father on lobster fishing and taking visitors to the Great Saltee island bird sanctuary during his summer breaks from college.

After a short period with the Irish Sugar Company, he worked as a forecaster at Shannon Airport with the Irish Meteorological Service --- now Met Éireann. He took a doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which he was awarded in 1969.

His MIT supervisor was the renowned meteorologist, Jule G Charney, one of the first to use computer forecasting. Through is contact with Serbian-American and Canadian meteorologists Fedor Mesinger and André Robert, Bates helped to develop new forecasting models, including a technique called Lagrangian integration.

Met Éireann was the first weather service to make use of this method, now central to forecasting in many national weather services.

During the 1970s, Ray worked with the Egyptian Meteorological Institute, and the World Meteorological Organisation, and in 1987 he was appointed senior scientist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre in the US.

In 1994, NASA conferred him with an award for his “leadership and pioneering work” with the semi-Lagrangian models of forecasting.

He and his wife Zaira moved to Denmark in 1995 where he became professor of meteorology at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen until his retirement in 2004. After Zaira died of cancer he returned to UCD as an adjunct professor of meteorology, and continued research there and with the Royal Irish Academy (RIA).

He chaired the RIA’s Climate Change Sciences Committee from 2009-2013, and was a member of the RIA’s Climate Change and Environmental Sciences Committee from 2014-18. He was awarded the Vilhelm Bjerknes Medal of the European Geosciences Union in 2009.

He set up the Irish Meteorological Society, and served as its president from 2004 to 2008. He and his second wife, Natasha, spent more time in Wexford where he bought a sailing craft with his brother, Dick, he was a founder member of the Kilmore Quay Boat Club.

His colleague, Dr Peter Lynch of UCD’s school of mathematics and statistics, said at his funeral that Bates had published several important papers on the theory and modelling of the global climate and “everything he said or wrote was based on meticulous, unbiased analysis”.

His work on climate sensitivity and climate feedback proved controversial as he questioned the scientific rigour of one of the special reports released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) relating to global warming in 2018.

Writing in The Farmers’ Journal, Bates said the IPCC report ignored “important scientific evidence” gathered since 2013 “which reduces the sense of a looming emergency”, and said the Citizens’ Assembly had not received impartial scientific advice when it looked at how Ireland should respond to climate change.

He did not deny that the climate was changing, stating that “reasonable precautionary measures to reduce emissions should be taken on the basis of risk, but it does not require that we seriously damage our economy or bring our traditional way of life to an end in the process”.

Having helped to form the Irish Climate Science Forum, he subsequently withdrew from it .

Prof Lynch described Bates as a man of great integrity, and noted that while criticism of his views, “ not all of which was civil or scientifically justified”, caused him some distress, “it is beyond doubt that his work was of the highest scientific standard, and continues to merit serious consideration”.

Met Éireann said he was “a distinguished meteorologist and climate scientist and a pioneer in the fields of atmospheric dynamics and numerical weather prediction (NWP).

It said he “made significant contributions to the understanding of the dynamics and thermodynamics of the atmosphere and played a crucial role in developing NWP for operational weather forecasting”.

“He was a respected and influential voice in the scientific community, as well as a mentor and friend to many colleagues and students,” Met Éireann said, and it noted that “his rigour, commitment and passion were instrumental to advance weather and climate science and will always be remembered”.

Read The Sunday Independent here

Published in Marine Science
Tagged under

Heat extremes in Ireland will become more frequent and severe, and technological advancements will only deliver short-term benefits if steps towards “transformative change” are not taken, a new report published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns.

Ireland’s Climate Change Assessment (ICCA) report is the culmination of over two years of work that examines, over four volumes, how Ireland’s climate is changing.

Described as a “state of the art assessment”, it also examines how the island can be decarbonised, how climate change can be prepared for, and examines the benefits in transitioning to a low carbon society.

Researchers from Trinity College Dublin’s (TCD) Schools of Natural Sciences and Engineering worked on two volumes of the report and a summary document for policymakers.

The study notes that in line with global trends, 16 of the 20 warmest years in Ireland have occurred since 1990.

It says that having peaked in 2001, Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions have reduced in all sectors except agriculture.

However, Ireland currently emits more greenhouse gases per person than the EU average.

It says that more action is needed to meet Ireland's legally binding emissions targets, including large-scale and immediate emissions reductions across the energy system, which is currently heavily dependent (86%) on fossil fuels.

It says that “immediate and sustained transformative mitigation and adaptation actions” are “likely to yield substantial benefits for health, wellbeing and biodiversity in Ireland while reducing vulnerability to the adverse impacts of climate change”.

The full report is available here

Published in Weather

Tributes have been paid to Prof Máire Mulcahy, the first chair of the Marine Institute and a leading zoologist and ecologist, who has died aged 86.

As the Sunday Independent reports, she was the first female vice-president in higher education in Ireland.

From Cork city, she was professor of zoology and head of zoology and animal ecology at University College, Cork (UCC), and she paved the way for so many women in science and academia.

She studied science at UCC and then took a doctorate in biochemistry in Manchester, moving there with her husband, Noel Mulcahy. She was six months pregnant when Mulcahy, a lecturer in chemistry and former Irish Chess Champion aged just 38, died in the 1968 Tuskar air crash.

She returned to work after her daughter Marianne was born and took a post as lecturer in zoology at UCC. After she was appointed chair of zoology, new courses were developed under her leadership, including a degree in ecology, and two new MSc degrees in aquaculture and fisheries respectively.

She was a renowned expert in fish and shellfish health and disease. Her daughter remembers that her mother would often get calls from anglers at the weekend who had caught pike with tumours. Her research was into lymphoma and she was glad of the information.

Former colleague Prof Tony Lewis said that she “always encouraged younger members of staff when I arrived nearly 50 years ago”, and her commitment to research centres led to establishment of the SFI MaREI Centre and the Beaufort building in Ringaskiddy.

She was also first chair of the Marine Institute which she helped to establish in 1991, and her commitment to secure supporting funding for research into what was regarded as a neglected area led to construction of a new headquarters at Rinville in Galway, and a fleet of research vessels.

Dr Susan Steele, director of the European Fisheries Control Agency, said that she was an excellent supervisor, and other postgraduates were inspired by her, including Dr Pam Byrne, first female chief executive of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland and Dr Julie Maguire, research director of the Bantry Marine Research Station.

Mulcahy was an active board member of the Heritage Council when it was first established, and also served on boards of the National Cancer Registry, Cork Savings Bank (now PTSB) and the Salmon Research Agency. She was president of the Irish Science Teachers’ Association from 1973 to 1974.

O’Halloran says that she “wore all those achievements and distinctions lightly”. She maintained a strong interest in ecology, equality, environment and climate justice, and was retired when she took a masters in theology and ecology.

She was a keen tennis player, a talented painter, loved the sea, sea swimming and walking, and recently attended a UCC event where she presented the Mulcahy medal to the best final year zoology student.

Read The Sunday Independent here

Published in Marine Science

Underwater noise levels and movement of marine mammals are being tracked in European waters by a scientific team led by Dr Joanne O’Brien and a team from the Atlantic Technological University (ATU) Galway.

The devices were deployed in Turkey and Spain in recent days by ATU’s Dr María Pérez Tadeo and Yaiza Pozo Galván.

The research project, which is part of the EU “Strategic Infrastructure for Improved Animal Tracking in European Seas” (STRAITS) initiative, will study the movement of sea animals at four strategic locations.

The aim is to “better understand their biology and ecology, and aid in conservation and management”, the team says.

Acoustic listening deviceThe acoustic listening device ready for deployment

The four locations are:

  • the Danish Straits, between the Kattegat Sea and the Baltic Sea;
  • the North Channel in the Celtic Sea;
  • the Straits of Gibraltar, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea;
  • the Straits of Bosphorus and Dardanelles, between the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea.

The EU “Strategic Infrastructure for Improved Animal Tracking in European Seas” (STRAITS) initiative, will study the movement of sea animals at four strategic locations.Areas the equipment is being deployed around the European Straits/major swim ways Image by Dr Kim Birnie-Gauvin

Led by the Loughs Agency in Northern Ireland, the four-year €3.5m project is funded by the Horizon Europe Framework Programme, and the team is drawn from ten world-leading organisations.

ATU’s focus will be specifically on the movement of marine mammals. Dr María Pérez Tadeo, postdoctoral researcher at ATU’s marine and freshwater research centre, travelled to the Straits of Dardanelles last week.

The Straits of DardanellesDardanelles Strait, Turkey

Pérez Tadeo was accompanied by ATU Erasum intern Yaiza Pozo Galván and they set up the equipment and co-ordinated the deployment of the first passive acoustic monitoring devices for the STRAITS project.

The research visit to Turkey was funded by the Marine Institute.

“We brought the equipment to Turkey to set it up and it was then deployed in the Straits of Bosphorus and Dardanelles by Dr Aytaç Özgül, Dr Atlan Lok and Dr Evrim Kurtay, researchers from Ege University, who dived to attach it to their moorings,”they said.

“ There was a heavy storm over here not long after the dive so we were extremely lucky getting the equipment in the water beforehand, since the weather window was very brief. Equipment was also shipped to Spain and was deployed last Wednesday in the Strait of Gibraltar by Dr Ricardo F Sánchez Leal and his team, researchers from the Spanish Oceanographic Institute,” they said.

“The study of animal movements offers one of the best ways to monitor animals from regional to continental or even global scales, and from minutes to decades,” the ATU team says.

“Although animal tracking is not new, it is only recently that the technology has enabled the tracking of animals over larger areas and longer timescales,”it says.

ATU marine scientist María Pérez Tadeo and Yaiza Pozo GalvánATU marine scientist María Pérez Tadeo and Yaiza Pozo Galván setting up the acoustic equipment onshore before its deployment

“ This advancement has yielded key information about the biology and ecology of these animals, but much more knowledge could be gained if efforts to tag and detect animals were performed collaboratively, as part of a network. This is one of the primary goals of STRAITS,”it explains.

Published in Marine Science
Tagged under

Several fish stocks are improving according to the Marine Institute's annual Stock Book, just published, which provides impartial scientific advice to the Government on the status of 74 key fish stocks of interest to Ireland.

Haddock, monkfish, megrim, tuna, and some Dublin Bay Prawn stocks have increased and continue to be sustainably fished. Cod, herring and whiting have declined and are slow to recover. Work will continue to rebuilding of these stocks says Marine Minister Charlie Mc Conalogue.

He said the Institute's findings will guide his negotiations at the EU December Fisheries Council meeting on December 10/11 and with Third Countries, including the UK.

The Marine Institute has published the 2023 edition of the Stock Book. This detailed annual publication provides the latest impartial scientific advice to government on the status of 74 key fish stocks of interest to Ireland.

McConalogue said, "I am delighted to receive the Fish Stock Book for 2023. This provides essential information reviewing the state of fish stocks in 2023 and provides management advice for the setting of quotas for 2024. The exemplary work done by the Marine Institute scientists, feeds into the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES), to generate best available independent scientific advice which guides my negotiations at the December Fisheries Council and with Third Countries, including the UK. It is important that the science and advice is made accessible to industry and other stakeholders through the continued annual publication of the Fish Stock Book.”

The Minister added, “Again in 2023 there is a trend towards improved state for many fished stocks. This solid evidence basis is giving assurance that our policy at national and EU level is making progress on delivering long-term sustainability. Stocks of haddock, monkfish, megrim, tuna, and some of the Dublin Bay Prawn stocks have increased in recent years and continue to be sustainably fished. There are some stocks such as cod, herring and whiting that have declined and are slow to recover, work will continue to rebuilding of these important stocks.”

This is the 31st edition of the annual book, which contains the latest management advice used by decision makers to set sustainable catch levels and fishing quotas for 2024. The publication is an invaluable reference guide for a wide audience, including the Minister’s team of negotiators, the fishing industry, marine scientists, environmental NGOs and third level institutes.

In 2022, Irish vessels landed approximately 157,000 tonnes of wild caught fish worth more than €296 million at first sale. This, in turn, supports a valuable processing industry and other activities in our coastal communities.

Ensuring long term sustainability is a key objective of the Common Fisheries policy. To that end, every year, the Marine Institute undertakes an extensive data collection programme on board commercial vessels, in the ports and on multiple scientific fisheries surveys. Over 200 days, equating to more than 2,000 scientist days, are spent at sea monitoring fisheries resources on Ireland’s state of the art marine research vessels, RV Tom Crean and RV Celtic Explorer.

Onshore and at sea sampling programmes measure over half a million fish and estimate age for a further 56,000 individuals across all commercial species. Irish data are compiled with that from other countries through the intergovernmental organisation ICES. Marine Institute scientists carry out the stock assessments and develop the scientific evidence and advice at ICES. The Stock Book integrates the latest scientific advice from ICES with relevant information on Irish fisheries.

Michael Gillooly, Interim CEO of the Marine Institute said, "I am delighted to see the publication of this year’s Stock Book which is the culmination of a lot of hard work by Marine Institute scientists throughout the year. Our scientists collect, manage and analyse the data need to assess how many fish can be sustainably harvested from this renewable resource. Marine Institute experts collaborate with ICES to develop the robust and independent scientific advice for management. The scientific advice and services provided by our scientists to stakeholders are essential to supporting a sustainable ocean economy, protecting and managing our marine ecosystems and meeting EU obligations. This work is essential to ensure sustainable seafood supplies which is backbone of the coastal economy in many areas."

Dr Ciaran Kelly, Director of Fisheries Ecosystem Advisory Services at the Marine Institute said, "Over the last two decades Ireland has invested significantly in gathering data and improving knowledge of our fisheries resources and marine ecosystems. This paying off in terms of improved science based advice and more sustainable outcomes for seafood production and our ocean. Marine Institute scientists continue to make a significant contribution to the work of ICES and it is noteworthy that the incoming chair of the ICES Advisory Committee (ACOM) is Dr Colm Lordan who has led the work on this year’s Stock Book.”

The 2023 Stock Book is available electronically on the Marine Institute's website https://oar.marine.ie/handle/10793/1873 and as an interactive online application (https://shiny.marine.ie/stockbook/). Most of the scientific work that delivers the Marine Institute's Stock Book is funded under the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF).

Published in Marine Science

A team of 12 marine scientists onboard the brand new UK polar research ship, RRS Sir David Attenborough, set sail on 20 November to Antarctica to study the impact of environmental changes on Antarctic ecosystems and sea ice. The results of their study will help scientists understand how the Southern Ocean is being affected by global warming and its consequences on the animals living there, such as krill, copepods, whales, and penguins.

The team, which includes physicists, ecologists, and biogeochemists, will be investigating how the upper ocean changes in response to the annual melt of sea ice. The research is of utmost importance as polar ecosystems play a pivotal role in regulating cycles of carbon and nutrients, both in the Southern Ocean and across the world via ocean circulation.

During the ten-day mission, the researchers will deploy Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) below vast areas of free-floating sea ice, which play a crucial role in the global carbon cycle. The £9m BIOPOLE project is the first official science cruise of the RRS Sir David Attenborough, and the team will be putting the ship's full capabilities to the test.

First sea ice encountered on the RRS David Attenborough Photo: Rich TurnerFirst sea ice encountered on the RRS David Attenborough Photo: Rich Turner

The BIOPOLE cruise will also include hydrographic surveys and using BONGO and mammoth nets to collect zooplankton. The Controlled Temperature Lab on the ship will be used to investigate the size and growth of copepod lipid sacs, which are a source of food for creatures and a critical part of the carbon cycle.

The team will deploy three autonomous underwater gliders, two of which have autonomous under-ice navigation modules. This will allow the gliders to travel 20-30 km under the ice and collect data over a longer period and wider geographical area. The research will help scientists better understand how the Southern Ocean is being affected by environmental change and could have significant implications for the future of the planet.

The BIOPOLE cruise will also be monitoring the visible, record-breaking low in sea ice extent experienced during the last Southern winter. By gaining improved knowledge of the polar ecosystem, scientists hope to have a better understanding of how to mitigate the effects of environmental change on the planet.

A copepod (an adult female Calanus propinquus) from the water column above the Bellingshausen Sea continental shelf. Photo: BASA copepod (an adult female Calanus propinquus) from the water column above the Bellingshausen Sea continental shelf. Photo: BAS

Published in Marine Science
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Lionfish may be one of the most infamous invasive species in the western North Atlantic, but their spread is only the tip of the iceberg, according to an international research team.

The new study involving Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) scientists has found that only one per cent of known species on Earth have “invaded” around the world.

The Global Ecology and Biogeography journal study suggests an “enormous potential for future waves of biological invasions on land, in freshwater lakes and rivers, and in the ocean”.

“The magnitude of environmental and socioeconomic impacts due to new invasions is likely to rise substantially in the coming decades, particularly as trade and transport accelerate and shift, connecting distant countries and their unique species pools,” the paper says.

Invasive species are one of the greatest threats to biodiversity globally and are the main cause for the extinction of vertebrates in the last century, with an estimated cost of at least $162 billion (USD) a year, the study notes.

The study team found that greater numbers of non-native species tend to come from more diverse species groups.

It notes that some groups have been “excessively introduced, including mammals, birds, fishes, insects, spiders, and plants”.

“Understudied groups – such as microorganisms – are likely vastly underestimated in non-native species inventories,” the authors state.

The study also found that most reporting of biological invasions has occurred on land rather than aquatic habitats.

It says that greater research efforts will likely reveal “substantial numbers of new non-native species and associated impacts in freshwater and ocean habitats”.

Dr Ross Cuthbert, co-author on the study and QUB researcher, said that “biological invasions can cause extinctions, cost trillions of dollars in damage and control, and spread diseases”.

“Their impacts are rising rapidly, making large-scale understandings and predictions of invasion patterns crucial to protect environments, economies, and societies,” he said.

“Management efforts are urgently needed to prevent future introductions and to control the most damaging invaders already established,” he added.

The research is here

Published in Marine Wildlife

Leading ocean conservationists, including marine biologist Dr Sylvia Earle, will participate in a public online broadcast from Rio de Janeiro to mark Darwin Day this Sunday, November 12th 2023.

Philippe Cousteau, founder of EarthEcho International and grandson of Jacques Cousteau, will speak about protecting marine ecosystems and activating youth, while Dr Sarah Darwin will reflect on the changes to the planet since her great-great-grandfather Charles Darwin voyaged around the world.

The initiative is part of DARWIN200, a pioneering two-year global voyage (2023-2025) of 40,000 nautical miles aboard the historic tall ship Oosterschelde.

It aims to “train and empower 200 determined young conservation leaders and inspire solutions to the planet’s biggest environmental challenges”.

The ship is visiting 32 ports along the two-year journey, and will be in Rio de Janeiro until November 12th for a week of youth conservation leadership programmes and public events.

The full day of live and interactive talks, called Darwin Day, will be broadcast from the Associação Mico-Leão-Dourado (Golden Lion Tamarin centre), with free online viewing.

Speakers will include retired NASA astronaut Col Terry W Virts will provide his perspective on seeing planet Earth from his travels aboard the space shuttle and the International Space Station.

World-renowned ethologist and conservationist Dr Jane Goodall will share her reasons for hope, while marine biologist Dr Sylvia Earle will offer her perspective on making a better future for nature.

DARWIN200 project leader Stewart McPherson will present a summary of a week-long effort to plant trees in the Atlantic rainforest.

Acclaimed National Geographic photographer and Nikon Ambassador Ami Vitale will talk about observing and photographing species on the brink of extinction, and what we can do to save critically endangered wildlife.

Project Tamar’s Nina dei Marcovaldi will give an overview of sea turtle conservation in Brazil, and deliver “an inspiring message of the possibility of inter-generational change”.

Explorer Paul Rose and the National Geographic Pristine Seas Team will join from their team’s expedition vessel in the Federated State of Micronesia to discuss protecting the remaining pristine ocean.

The event can be watched live on YouTube on Sunday here

More information here

Published in Marine Wildlife
Tagged under

Riverside planting, recreating natural channels and reconnecting groundwater links could help offset high thermal extremes caused by climate change in rivers, a new study recommends.

The study led by the University of Birmingham, along with the University of Nottingham and the Scottish Government’s Marine Directorate, highlights that intense shortwave radiation during hot and dry periods is likely to be the biggest factor in high river water temperatures.

This factor, combined with declining water levels and volumes, and slower flow velocities during droughts, will warm up rivers more quickly, it says.

However, cooling effects from groundwater inputs, channel shading and evaporation can offset high temperatures in certain circumstances, the study published in the scientific journal Hydrological Processes says.

The scientists have identified three primary mechanisms that drive river water temperature increases during droughts.

These are: atmospheric energy inputs; physical habitat influences (shading and river channel shapes controlling flow); and the contributions of different water sources – groundwater tends to cool rivers in summer.

“Rising river water temperatures can have significant and often detrimental implications for aquatic life, impacting both individual species and entire ecosystems,” the study’s co-author, David Hannah, professor of hydrology and UNESCO chair in water sciences at the University of Birmingham, said.

“Drought conditions often coincide with high atmospheric temperatures, and such trends will become more intense and frequent with climate change - with major implications for river water temperatures due to the combination of intense solar radiation and lower (and slower) water flows,” he said.

“However, certain management interventions such as riverside planting and river restoration initiatives – including recreating natural channel forms and reconnecting groundwaters – could help to offset high thermal extremes during droughts if interventions are well targeted,” he said.

Lead author Dr James White, from the University of Birmingham, said the work “ highlights critical future research questions that will help us to better model river water temperature dynamics during droughts – helping river managers to work out how thermal extremes could be better managed through mitigation and adaptation strategies”.

The research was supported by the British Environment Agency, and the paper is here

Published in Marine Science
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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!