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Displaying items by tag: west cork

A young reader from West Cork has contacted Afloat.ie to appeal for information about a coconut he discovered washed up on a local beach. Michael Kearney (14) writes:

Recently I got very excited when I found a coconut washed up on Owenahincha Beach (in Rosscarbery, West Cork) on a Scouts trip…

It weighs 2.5kg, it is 23 centimetres long and about 17 centimetres wide at its widest point. I found a 4/5 millimetre goose barnacle in one of the coconuts holes (the hole is caved in).

[The coconut] is very hairy and it smells like the sea —salty with a tiny hint of rot. I found it in the big belt of seaweed and washed-up things that have been left by the tide.

I was hoping you could suggest where it may have come from, or whether coconuts are washed up on Irish beaches often.

It’s possible Michael’s coconut find coukd be flotsam or jetsam from a passing vessel. It might possibly even be a so-called ‘drift seed’ from distant tropical waters.

If any Afloat.ie readers can help shed light on the mystery, have your say in the comments below. You can also share your thoughts on the Afloat Magazine Facebook page.

The washed-up coconut, which appears to have been at sea for some time, weighs a little over 2.5kg | Credit: Michael KearneyThe washed-up coconut, which appears to have been at sea for some time, weighs a little over 2.5kg | Credit: Michael Kearney

Published in Your Say
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Four Cork divers put a full year of training and preparation to the test as they embarked on an expedition to the wreck of the Lusitania off the Old Head of Kinsale last week.

As Cork Beo reports, Timmy Carey — who had previously explored the wreck five times — was joined by three novices in the first ever all-Cork dive to the final resting place of the RMS Lusitania, the Cunard liner which was torpedoed by a German U-boat during the First World War.

For many years the wreck was owned by US businessman Gregg Bemis, who supported numerous dives to the site to learn more about its fate — which has sparked numerous theories about its demise and its cargo. Some of these were tackled in a somewhat controversial documentary by National Geographic in 2012.

Bemis signed over ownership of the shipwreck to the Old Head of Kinsale Lusitania Museum a year before his death at the age of 91 in May 2020.

Considered the “Mount Everest of dives”, the Lusitania is a challenging dive at almost 100 metres below the surface in total darkness.

But Ronan Barry, Brendan Desmond and Dick Vaughan, fellow members of the Blackwater Sub Aqua Club along with Carey, proved their mettle as they had the rare opportunity to get up close with the wreck for nearly half an hour.

Cork Beo has more on the story HERE.

Published in Diving
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Researchers from Trinity’s School of Natural Sciences were in West Cork earlier this month to tag some of the many basking sharks that have been frequenting our shores — and learn more about the second largest fish in the world’s oceans.

Funded by the Irish Research Council and Science Foundation Ireland, Assistant Professor Nicholas Payne and PhD candidate Haley Dolton spent a week on the water with West Cork Charters in which they managed to apply tags to four basking sharks.

These electronic tags will accumulate data about the sharks’ behaviour and physiology as they move around the coast feeding on plankton.

The goal, the researchers say, is to learn more about the anatomy and physiology of these gentle giants and hopefully guide conservation efforts for this endangered marine wildlife species.

“Basking sharks are a difficult species to study because they are not very abundant and they only grace our shores for a brief period each year, from April to August, so I am delighted we were able to learn so much about them this past week,” said Dr Payne.

Sadly the first phase of the pair’s work involved dissecting the remains of two basking sharks that washed up on the West Cork coast at the end of April, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

“We would rather not have have had the opportunity to examine the two sharks that died prematurely before we took to the sea, but these sad events did at least help us learn more about them,” Dr Payne explained.

“Basking sharks are an endangered species and at risk of death from fishing bycatch and from getting struck by boats, so the more we know about them — especially their behaviour and physiology — the better chance we have of protecting them.

“The experience we had of observing live sharks in all their glory really emphasises that we should do our best to protect these incredible animals.”

Dolton added: “The amount of data we managed to collect throughout the whole week was phenomenal and beyond what I’d hoped for. We are currently analysing all the results and look forward to sharing our findings with everyone later in the year.”

Published in Sharks

The Commodore of Schull Harbour Sailing Club, Sean Norris, has confirmed that the 2021 Calves Week Regatta is going ahead as planned in August.

Calves Week has had a strong interest and has received 17 entries across all classes to date with reports of interest in entering also being expressed by some high profile new and returning campaigners.

"I would like to confirm that with the current easing of the Health Restrictions, our event will proceed on the previously announced dates of August 3rd to 6th, 2021" Norris told Afloat.

Class Zero yachts Rockabill (on starboard) and Eleuthera competing in the 2019 Calves Week. Photo: Bob BatemanClass Zero yachts Rockabill (on starboard) and Eleuthera competing in the 2019 Calves Week. Photo: Bob Bateman

Notably, the regatta has a number of entries to date in Class 4 and with more expected, Norris believes this will probably be the biggest in participation numbers in any regatta for a number of years.

Calves Week Race Officer Alan CrosbieCalves Week Race Officer Alan Crosbie

On the water, it will be very much business as usual at the CD Environmental sponsored Calves Week with Alan Crosbie returning as Race Officer, and organisers also hope to have some new course options available for participants.

"We are very hopeful that the heath regime will be very different by the time our event comes around but we are equally satisfied that all the necessary arrangements are and can be put in place to enable the event to proceed even if we do not move forward significantly from where we are now", Norris said. 

"While things will be different ashore this year, we would ask all participants to bear with us and the local businesses in ensuring that all is done in accordance with whatever guidelines are in place at that time so that everyone can enjoy our event in the safest possible way, he added.

Published in Calves Week

West Cork is enjoying a veritable bounty of whale sightings “in dolphin numbers”, as the Southern Star reports.

Video recorded last week near Union Hall shows two humpbacks who followed a whale watching vessel “in a very sociable mood”, according to Cork Whale Watch’s Colin Barnes.

He descried it as the best marine wildlife sighting of its kind in the last two decades — a sentiment echoed by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group’s Padraig Whooley.

Noting a recent report of as many as 100 minke whales spotted on a single boat trip, Whooley said the whale activity off the South Coast at present is “exceptional on a global scale”.

The Southern Star has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

The carcass of a second basking shark has washed up on the coast of West Cork just days after the discovery of an unusually fresh specimen 20km away.

According to Cork Beo, the second large fish was found at the weekend near Courtmacsherry and is believed to have been dead for some time.

Another basking shark carcass measuring a whopping seven metres that beached at Inchydoney last week presented a rare opportunity for marine biologists to examine relatively fresh remains.

It’s unknown how the female shark died, but dissection revealed that the marine wildlife giant still had food in its stomach.

“It’s sad of course to see such a big beautiful animal like that, but it’s good to try and get something positive out of it,” Trinity lecturer Dr Nicholas Payne said.

Basking sharks have been spotted in great numbers off West Cork this month, with video of a kayaker surrounded by the second biggest fish in the sea making a splash last week.

Published in Sharks
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RTÉ News reports that a 22-year-old man has died after falling into a blowhole near Garretstown Beach last night (Saturday 24 April).

It’s understood that the man had been part of a group camping overnight at the beach, and that a friend who tried to rescue the casualty is being treated for hypothermia.

Published in Coastal Notes
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The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has warned the public to stay away from the final resting place of a humpback whale carcass that washed ashore in West Cork last month.

And according to the Southern Star, poor weather forecast for later this week has dampened hopes to potentially retrieve the marine wildlife remains for public display.

The carcass of the juvenile humpback whale is only the ninth recorded stranding of the species in Ireland, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

First spotted in the waters of Roaringwater Bay, it eventually came to rest on the rocky shore at the foot of steep bank at Colla West near Schull, where IWDG volunteers have examined the remains over the weeks since.

Plans had been mooted to preserve the skeleton as a potential tourism draw for the area, the IWDG’s Pádraig Whooley said, though this would be “at great expense”.

“Although the plan was tentative, if successful, it would be a wonderful opportunity because the only other humpback whale on display is in the Natural History Museum, and that dates back to 1893,” he added.

The Southern Star has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

RTÉ News reports on West Cork farmers’ dismay at the decision to reduce the operating hours of the cable car link to Dursey Island where they graze their livestock.

The winter schedule, which sees the service shut down at 4.30pm daily, usually ends at the beginning of March but has been extended by Cork County Council amid the continued national Level 5 lockdown.

However, mainland farmers argue that the reduced service leaves them little time to manage their animals ahead of the calving and lambing season.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Island News
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A 19th-century house in West Cork that once comprised six coastguard cottages is now on the market for €1.95 million.

As the Irish Examiner reports, Rocket House — named for the lifesaving rocket launch that once stood on the grounds — sits in the picturesque environs of Castletownshend on ‘Ireland’s Riviera’.

And it comes at a bargain price for this class of property, as it previously sold to overseas buyers for more than €3.5 million.

That’s quite a deal for a house whose history includes rescues from the Lusitania among other notable disasters off a notorious stretch of coastline.

The Irish Examiner has much more on the home and its history HERE.

Published in Waterfront Property
Page 1 of 23

Ireland's Offshore Renewable Energy

Because of Ireland's location at the Atlantic edge of the EU, it has more offshore energy potential than most other countries in Europe. The conditions are suitable for the development of the full range of current offshore renewable energy technologies.

Offshore Renewable Energy FAQs

Offshore renewable energy draws on the natural energy provided by wind, wave and tide to convert it into electricity for industry and domestic consumption.

Offshore wind is the most advanced technology, using fixed wind turbines in coastal areas, while floating wind is a developing technology more suited to deeper water. In 2018, offshore wind provided a tiny fraction of global electricity supply, but it is set to expand strongly in the coming decades into a USD 1 trillion business, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). It says that turbines are growing in size and in power capacity, which in turn is "delivering major performance and cost improvements for offshore wind farms".

The global offshore wind market grew nearly 30% per year between 2010 and 2018, according to the IEA, due to rapid technology improvements, It calculated that about 150 new offshore wind projects are in active development around the world. Europe in particular has fostered the technology's development, led by Britain, Germany and Denmark, but China added more capacity than any other country in 2018.

A report for the Irish Wind Energy Assocation (IWEA) by the Carbon Trust – a British government-backed limited company established to accelerate Britain's move to a low carbon economy - says there are currently 14 fixed-bottom wind energy projects, four floating wind projects and one project that has yet to choose a technology at some stage of development in Irish waters. Some of these projects are aiming to build before 2030 to contribute to the 5GW target set by the Irish government, and others are expected to build after 2030. These projects have to secure planning permission, obtain a grid connection and also be successful in a competitive auction in the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS).

The electricity generated by each turbine is collected by an offshore electricity substation located within the wind farm. Seabed cables connect the offshore substation to an onshore substation on the coast. These cables transport the electricity to land from where it will be used to power homes, farms and businesses around Ireland. The offshore developer works with EirGrid, which operates the national grid, to identify how best to do this and where exactly on the grid the project should connect.

The new Marine Planning and Development Management Bill will create a new streamlined system for planning permission for activity or infrastructure in Irish waters or on the seabed, including offshore wind farms. It is due to be published before the end of 2020 and enacted in 2021.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE. Is there scope for community involvement in offshore wind? The IWEA says that from the early stages of a project, the wind farm developer "should be engaging with the local community to inform them about the project, answer their questions and listen to their concerns". It says this provides the community with "the opportunity to work with the developer to help shape the final layout and design of the project". Listening to fishing industry concerns, and how fishermen may be affected by survey works, construction and eventual operation of a project is "of particular concern to developers", the IWEA says. It says there will also be a community benefit fund put in place for each project. It says the final details of this will be addressed in the design of the RESS (see below) for offshore wind but it has the potential to be "tens of millions of euro over the 15 years of the RESS contract". The Government is also considering the possibility that communities will be enabled to invest in offshore wind farms though there is "no clarity yet on how this would work", the IWEA says.

Based on current plans, it would amount to around 12 GW of offshore wind energy. However, the IWEA points out that is unlikely that all of the projects planned will be completed. The industry says there is even more significant potential for floating offshore wind off Ireland's west coast and the Programme for Government contains a commitment to develop a long-term plan for at least 30 GW of floating offshore wind in our deeper waters.

There are many different models of turbines. The larger a turbine, the more efficient it is in producing electricity at a good price. In choosing a turbine model the developer will be conscious of this ,but also has to be aware the impact of the turbine on the environment, marine life, biodiversity and visual impact. As a broad rule an offshore wind turbine will have a tip-height of between 165m and 215m tall. However, turbine technology is evolving at a rapid rate with larger more efficient turbines anticipated on the market in the coming years.

 

The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme is designed to support the development of renewable energy projects in Ireland. Under the scheme wind farms and solar farms compete against each other in an auction with the projects which offer power at the lowest price awarded contracts. These contracts provide them with a guaranteed price for their power for 15 years. If they obtain a better price for their electricity on the wholesale market they must return the difference to the consumer.

Yes. The first auction for offshore renewable energy projects is expected to take place in late 2021.

Cost is one difference, and technology is another. Floating wind farm technology is relatively new, but allows use of deeper water. Ireland's 50-metre contour line is the limit for traditional bottom-fixed wind farms, and it is also very close to population centres, which makes visibility of large turbines an issue - hence the attraction of floating structures Do offshore wind farms pose a navigational hazard to shipping? Inshore fishermen do have valid concerns. One of the first steps in identifying a site as a potential location for an offshore wind farm is to identify and assess the level of existing marine activity in the area and this particularly includes shipping. The National Marine Planning Framework aims to create, for the first time, a plan to balance the various kinds of offshore activity with the protection of the Irish marine environment. This is expected to be published before the end of 2020, and will set out clearly where is suitable for offshore renewable energy development and where it is not - due, for example, to shipping movements and safe navigation.

YEnvironmental organisations are concerned about the impact of turbines on bird populations, particularly migrating birds. A Danish scientific study published in 2019 found evidence that larger birds were tending to avoid turbine blades, but said it didn't have sufficient evidence for smaller birds – and cautioned that the cumulative effect of farms could still have an impact on bird movements. A full environmental impact assessment has to be carried out before a developer can apply for planning permission to develop an offshore wind farm. This would include desk-based studies as well as extensive surveys of the population and movements of birds and marine mammals, as well as fish and seabed habitats. If a potential environmental impact is identified the developer must, as part of the planning application, show how the project will be designed in such a way as to avoid the impact or to mitigate against it.

A typical 500 MW offshore wind farm would require an operations and maintenance base which would be on the nearby coast. Such a project would generally create between 80-100 fulltime jobs, according to the IWEA. There would also be a substantial increase to in-direct employment and associated socio-economic benefit to the surrounding area where the operation and maintenance hub is located.

The recent Carbon Trust report for the IWEA, entitled Harnessing our potential, identified significant skills shortages for offshore wind in Ireland across the areas of engineering financial services and logistics. The IWEA says that as Ireland is a relatively new entrant to the offshore wind market, there are "opportunities to develop and implement strategies to address the skills shortages for delivering offshore wind and for Ireland to be a net exporter of human capital and skills to the highly competitive global offshore wind supply chain". Offshore wind requires a diverse workforce with jobs in both transferable (for example from the oil and gas sector) and specialist disciplines across apprenticeships and higher education. IWEA have a training network called the Green Tech Skillnet that facilitates training and networking opportunities in the renewable energy sector.

It is expected that developing the 3.5 GW of offshore wind energy identified in the Government's Climate Action Plan would create around 2,500 jobs in construction and development and around 700 permanent operations and maintenance jobs. The Programme for Government published in 2020 has an enhanced target of 5 GW of offshore wind which would create even more employment. The industry says that in the initial stages, the development of offshore wind energy would create employment in conducting environmental surveys, community engagement and development applications for planning. As a site moves to construction, people with backgrounds in various types of engineering, marine construction and marine transport would be recruited. Once the site is up and running , a project requires a team of turbine technicians, engineers and administrators to ensure the wind farm is fully and properly maintained, as well as crew for the crew transfer vessels transporting workers from shore to the turbines.

The IEA says that today's offshore wind market "doesn't even come close to tapping the full potential – with high-quality resources available in most major markets". It estimates that offshore wind has the potential to generate more than 420 000 Terawatt hours per year (TWh/yr) worldwide – as in more than 18 times the current global electricity demand. One Terawatt is 114 megawatts, and to put it in context, Scotland it has a population a little over 5 million and requires 25 TWh/yr of electrical energy.

Not as advanced as wind, with anchoring a big challenge – given that the most effective wave energy has to be in the most energetic locations, such as the Irish west coast. Britain, Ireland and Portugal are regarded as most advanced in developing wave energy technology. The prize is significant, the industry says, as there are forecasts that varying between 4000TWh/yr to 29500TWh/yr. Europe consumes around 3000TWh/year.

The industry has two main umbrella organisations – the Irish Wind Energy Association, which represents both onshore and offshore wind, and the Marine Renewables Industry Association, which focuses on all types of renewable in the marine environment.

©Afloat 2020

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