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Marine Environment, Science, wildlife, weather & Ocean energy
Senator Victor Boyhan
Dun Laoghaire-based Senator Victor Boyhan has welcomed the Government’s decision to publish the full text of the Maritime Area Planning Bill 2021 and accompanying Explanatory Memorandum today. As previously reported today (Monday 16 August), the Bill seeks to put in…
The full text of the Maritime Area Planning Bill 2021 & accompanying Explanatory Memorandum have been published today. This legislation intends to put in place a comprehensive & coherent planning system for the entire Maritime Area:
The Maritime Area Planning Bill 2021 and accompanying Explanatory Memorandum have been published today by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. The publication was approved at Cabinet on 29th June 2021 and confirmed by An Taoiseach Michéal Martin…
Achill Island RNLI
Achill Island RNLI was involved in the medical evacuation of a patient from Clare Island at the weekend. The volunteer lifeboat crew launched at 9.29 am on Saturday (14 August) under Coxswain Dave Curtis and with five crew members on…
Working on the Beckett mound at Inis Oírr.  The exhibition celebrates the making and sculpting of the set, the translation process and the engagement with the community
Islanders with expertise in stone have completed a “jigsaw puzzle” of rock upon timber for an Irish language production of Beckett’s Happy Days on the Aran island of Inis Oírr. As The Times Ireland reports, director Sarah Jane Scaife worked…
Taking Flight… twenty-one Norwegian-born White Tailed Eagle chicks were released into the wild at the four Munster sites - on the Shannon Estuary, Lough Derg, Waterford and in Killarney National Park (pictured). It is hoped they will bolster Ireland’s existing White-Tailed Eagle population. The chicks have been kept in purpose-built enclosures at the four locations while they grew, matured, and developed the feathers and muscles necessary for flight. They will continue to be carefully monitored and by NPWS staff leading the collaborative reintroduction programme, which began in 2007. The satellite tags will allow the project to monitor their progress and their integration into the existing Irish breeding population
Wildlife service staff released 21 white-tailed sea eagle chicks to the wild over the weekend at four sites in Munster, including Lough Derg and the Shannon estuary. Chicks were also released in Waterford and Killarney National Park as part of…
The orca or killer whale may look a bit like a friendly giant dolphin, but the evidence is that even the much-feared great white shark will give them a wide berth
Portuguese-based cruising enthusiast John Duggan of Cascais and originally Malahide has been monitoring the continuing situation with orca attacks on the rudders of cruising boats off the Iberian coast, and has posted this update today: "Anyone with a boat in…
Four Seasons in a Day poster
A documentary on the lives of people in coastal communities connected by the Carlingford Lough ferry will have its premiere in a special outdoor drive-in screening this Thursday (19 August). Four Seasons in a Day is one of six documentaries…
Finn the dolphin greets experienced divers checking on his welfare in Carlingford Lough earlier this month
Photos that emerged last month of cuts on the back of Carlingford Lough’s resident dolphin have prompted an investigation, as Independent.ie reports. Finn the dolphin has become a popular sight off Carlingford and Greenore on Co Louth’s Cooley Peninsula since…
Mayo IWDG members used their new wheeled dolphin stretcher to move the larger cetaceans from the beach
A local community in eastern Co Mayo rallied to attempt to save as many as 13 common dolphins that live-stranded near Blacksod on Friday (13 August). As Mayo IWDG’s Facebook reports, the family group comprising 13 dolphins — mainly mothers…
Kinsale Harbour - the seas off the south coast harbour have been identified for 'subsea energy storage offshore opportunities'
An ESB partnership aims to develop large scale storage for “green hydrogen” off the Cork coast which could meet up to ten per cent of current annual electricity consumption in Ireland. Up to three terawatt-hours (TWh) of “green hydrogen” and…
Ireland’s climate is changing in line with global changes resulting in a warmer and wetter Ireland, increasing sea-level rise, and - consequentially - increasing risks of coastal flooding. ‘The Status of Ireland’s Climate 2020’ report.
The Marine Institute (MI), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Met Éireann (MÉ) have published a report on "The Status of Ireland's Climate". This is the second comprehensive analysis of "essential" climate data collected in Ireland. It confirms and updates findings…
Warning symbol
Following a yellow wind warning issued by Met Éireann today (Wednesday 11 August) for eight counties, the Irish Coast Guard is strongly advising the public to exercise caution. The weather alert is in place for tomorrow, Thursday 12 and Friday…
File image of Poll na bPéist on Inis Mór
Two Italian brothers rescued after they were knocked into the sea in the Aran Islands have returned to meet the coastguard crew who saved them. In February 2019, Giovanni and Ricardo Zanon were struck by an unexpected wave at Poll…
Overhead drone image of the Marine Institute’s Lehanagh Pool research site in Co Galway
A new, free online training course in integrated multi-trophic aquaculture has been developed as part of the IMPAQT research project. Integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) involves farming multiple, complementary species from different levels of the food chain together for their mutual…
New research has found ‘an almost complete loss of stability over the last century’ in the series of currents responisble for driving the Gulf Stream, which researchers call the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC)
Winters in Ireland could be as cold as Toronto in Canada if a potential collapse in the Gulf Stream happens, an Irish climate scientist has said. New German research has found “an almost complete loss of stability over the last…
Simply Blue Energy aims to deliver floating wind energy for Ireland this decade but its chairwoman said the new maritime area regulatory authority needed to be in place before 2023
The State's new maritime area regulatory authority (MARA) could take up to 18 months to be established for offshore wind and other coastal activities, according to Wind Energy Ireland. As The Times Ireland reports today, the Department of Housing and…

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 Afloat.ie.

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!

Weather

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 Afloat.ie 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.”

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