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

Marine Environment, Science, wildlife, weather & Ocean energy
Homes on Gola Island in County Donegal. Housing has become a number one issue on the European Small Islands Agenda, a conference was told
Housing and the impact of holiday homes on islands was a theme of this year’s European Small Islands Federation annual general meeting held on West Cork’s Bere Island. Energy self-reliance and greener ferries were high on the agenda, according to…
A sample of updated 2m gridded bathymetry surfaces of Tramore Bay derived from INFOMAR data
INFOMAR, Ireland’s national seabed mapping programme, has released its latest data update which encompasses essential enhancements including higher resolution data of the Irish continental shelf and offshore areas. “This valuable update marks a significant stride in providing comprehensive and up-to-date…
The Cork Acoustics Buoy is a two-tonne, 13ft data gathering buoy developed with Huawei
The recent OceanTech Summit in Baltimore, Co Cork heard about the latest progress of an ongoing initiative to help protect marine wildlife in Irish waters, as Silicon Republic reports. previously highlighted the Smart Whale Sounds project, which has the…
Fanad Head Lighthouse in County Donegal is one of the Great Lighthouses of Ireland tourism initiative
Lighthouse tourism in Ireland has significantly increased, with a 60% rise in overnight stays in such facilities throughout the country since 2019, according to the Great Lighthouses of Ireland tourism initiative. Last year, over 622,000 people visited lighthouses and lighthouse…
Humpback whale breaching
Over 70 per cent of marine mammals in US waters face “major threats” from climate change, a study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has found. As The Irish Examiner and Press Association report, loss of dissolved oxygen…
FThe European Global Ocean Observing System (EuroGOOS) Conference delegates in Galway
The 10th International Conference of the European Global Ocean Observing System (EuroGOOS) is currently taking place in Galway, Ireland from October 3rd to 5th, 2023. This event is attended by a diverse group of ocean science professionals from policymakers to…
Europa Oil & Gas said in a recent stock market update that seismic survey work had indicated the Inishkea West site could potentially hold up to 1.55 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of gas
Europa Oil and Gas has almost doubled its estimate for how much gas could be contained at its Inishkea West project, located off the North Mayo coast. As The Western People reports, Europa Oil & Gas said in a recent…
Humpback whales and common dolphins
ESB has announced plans to fund a marine mammal observer (MMO) training programme which is open to graduates, final-year undergraduates and postgraduate students who are studying or working in the area of marine science or related disciplines. The aim of…
Members of the delegation with Loughs Agency Director of Aquaculture and Shellfisheries, Ciarán McGonigle, and Loughs Agency Head Of Science, Dr. Sarah McLean
The Loughs Agency recently welcomed a marine science delegation from Korea to the North West as part of a two-day workshop focusing on transboundary cooperation for sustainable ocean and coastal areas. The workshop was organised and sponsored by Queen’s University…
A Humpback whale off Baltimore, West Cork. Substantially increased resources are needed at all levels of Government and in environmental NGOs to accelerate the energy transition while protecting nature, say two renewable energy industry associations and several environmental NGOs
Two renewable energy industry associations and several environmental NGOs have called for a “step-change in Government investment in environmental capacity” at both state and civil society level to address the biodiversity and climate crises. A joint pre-Budget statement from Wind…
The Conamara Sea Week Festival programme of workshops, art, music, walks and talks takes place in Letterfrack from October 21st to 29th, with a climate action and biodiversity theme
Environmental broadcaster Duncan Stewart and the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group’s Fiacc O Brolcháin are among participants in this year’s Conamara Sea Week Festival. The programme of workshops, art, music, walks and talks takes place in Lettefrack from October 21st…
File image of the RV Tom Crean
Surveyors for the INFOMAR seabed mapping programme have reported the detection of two obstructions on the Atlantic floor some 30 nautical miles west of Co Galway. Marine Institute research operations manager Aodán Fitzgerald told RTÉ News that these obstructions are…
Coastal Watch aims to highlight suspicious or unusual activity and detect and prevent importation of illegal drugs along the west coast of Ireland
A “Coastal Watch” to detect and prevent importation of illegal drugs has been revitalised by the Galway Garda division and Revenue Customs Service. Communities living along 500 km of coastline in the west, along with maritime businesses and those working…
Greenore Port, Co. Louth where DSG have applied for an Operations & Maintenance Facility (OMF) base (superimposed above) to support offshore wind installations on the East Coast.
Greenore Port, part of the Doyle Shipping Group (DSG) has announced that it is the first Irish Port to apply for a Maritime Area Consent (MAC) under the newly established Maritime Area Regulatory Authority (MARA), writes Jehan Ashmore. As Afloat…
Trawl teams from Ireland and America were tasked to select a local water source and check for microplastics in the
Citizen scientists from Westport Aquarium in Washington state, USA, and Galway Atlantaquaria have collaborated on a project to raise awareness about microplastics. Named “SeaLegs”, the project involved monitoring local water sources for microplastic litter. From early summer, this year, the…
Kinvara Tidy Towns at work in Galway as part of the Clean Coasts Big Beach Clean
7,700 Clean Coasts volunteers rolled up their sleeves and removed a staggering 46 tonnes of litter all across the country as part of the Big Beach Clean.  The Big Beach Clean is part of the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) organised…

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.”