Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Displaying items by tag: Marine Institute

Scoil Chaitríona Junior in the Galway city suburb of Renmore has been crowned the national winner of the Explorers Ocean Champion School Awards 2023 for the Healthy Ocean project, ‘Caring for our Ocean’.

It marks the second year the prize has gone to a Galway school, with the 2022 gong presented to Scoil Iósaif Naofa, Oranmore Boys National School.

The Renmore primary pupils applied marine themes (environmental care, cleaning up litter, looking after the animals in the ocean) across many different subjects throughout the year, from the sciences through to music and the arts.

They shared stories about the ocean with a primary school in France, performed at the Marino Institute of Further Education in Dublin and at the Féile Scoildrámaíochta inter-school drama competition.

“We were also extremely impressed with the school’s collaboration and engagement where the teachers and children worked with marine scientists from ATU to learn about seaweed and birdlife, and with artists through the Teacher Artist Partnership, as well as meeting with other marine educators,” said Mick Gillooly, interim CEO of the Marine Institute.

“These children stood out for their eagerness to learn about the animals in the ocean, and for sharing what they learnt with their community about protecting and caring for the ocean.

“Bringing the topic of marine conservation to local, national and international platforms shows an incredible amount of commitment from the staff, children and their parents.”

Congratulating the children, teachers and the Explorers outreach team, Gillooly added: “The children’s enthusiasm was evident in many ways — in their shadow puppetry films, when they went on beach cleans, and in their musical performance ‘Fadhb na Mara’ about ocean conservation. Their work was exceptional.”

On behalf of the teachers, school principal Caitríona Daly said the award recognised their school’s commitment to learning about local areas — particularly their own seashore, Ballyloughane Beach. “We’re also delighted to have received an EU Blue Schools Award,” Daly said. “This award recognises the school’s effort to becoming ocean literate and for being an ocean champion!”

Twenty-eight coastal schools participated in this year’s competition, creating healthy ocean school projects based on themes including marine STEAM, ocean literacy, Sustainable Development Goals, and ocean and marine outdoor education.

“Each school showed incredible initiative by using cross-curricular content in support of the curriculum framework that introduces key competencies for children’s learning. These projects certainly show how the ocean can be used for thematic learning and how a healthy ocean is relevant to daily life,” said Cushla Dromgool-Regan, strategic education and communications manager of the Explorers Education Programme.

The Healthy Ocean school project and Ocean Champion Awards are organised through the Explorers Education Programme and the latter is the only ocean-themed award for primary schools in Ireland. It recognises the effort, commitment and collaboration of school management boards, teachers, children and the Explorer outreach officers who have engaged in the all-school, marine-themed project.

Published in Environment

The Marine Institute, alongside the Explorers Education Programme for primary schools, will be showcasing marine science at the 2023 Galway Science and Technology Festival this weekend.

Families are invited to the Bailey Allen Hall on the University of Galway campus on Sunday 12 November to learn more about Ireland’s shark species.

“We greatly enjoy the opportunity provided every year by the Galway Science and Technology Festival to highlight the work we do here at the Marine Institute, and to showcase in particular the Explorers Education Programme,” said Patricia Orme, director of corporate services at the Marine Institute.

“The event is perfect for fostering an interest in marine science in children and adults alike. With this year’s focus on sharks, we hope families will enjoy learning more about these fascinating creatures.”

Celebrating the launch of Explorers’ new children’s information book Fin-tastic Sharks: An Introduction to Elasmobranchs, the team will be sharing stories of the wonders of sharks from around the world to those found in Irish waters.

“We all know that children love sharks, skates and rays,” said Cushla Dromgool-Regan, strategic education and communications manager of the Explorers Education Programme. “The Explorers team is very excited about examining the jaws of the great white shark, to the giant teeth of the megalodon and to also learn about the super powers of many different shark species closer to home.”

A still from video captured of the shark nursery in deep waters off the West of Ireland during the SeaRover ROV survey in 2018 | Credit: Marine InstituteA still from video captured of the shark nursery in deep waters off the West of Ireland during the SeaRover ROV survey in 2018 | Credit: Marine Institute

Ireland’s ocean resource is the perfect refuge for endangered species, such as the world’s second largest shark, the basking shark, the common stingray and the white skate which is critically endangered.

Dromgool-Regan added: “Seventy-one species of sharks, skates, rays and chimaeras are found in Irish waters. This is over half the number of all of these species in Europe. This highlights the importance of the collaborative work of the scientists at the Marine Institute who work with other scientists, fishers and local communities to help establish [the status of] sharks, skates and rays in Irish waters.”

The Explorers team will also be displaying lots of shark biofacts and some of their favourite sharks, including baby lesser spotted dogfish and shark egg cases, also known as mermaid purses.

Families will have the opportunity to learn more about the 2018 discovery of an extremely rare shark nursery. Very large numbers of mermaid’s purses were observed on the sea floor at depths of 750 metres. Such large concentrations are very uncommon, indicating that females may gather in this area on the seafloor to lay their eggs.

Video footage of an extremely rare angelshark sighting in Rinville during the summer by some student kayaking enthusiasts will also be on display.

The Marine Institute’s exhibition ‘The Wild Atlantic – Sea Science' is also open at the Galway City Museum. Free to visitors, the gallery features seabed mapping, amazing scientific discoveries and creatures of the deep. In the ROV (remotely operated vehicle) simulator, explore ocean depths like a marine scientist and discover cold-water corals, shipwrecks and a rare shark nursery.

For more information on the 2023 Galway Science and Technology Festival programme and to register for free event tickets, visit It’s sure to be a fin-tastic day out for the whole family!

Published in Marine Wildlife

Maritime TV documentary North Atlantic: The Dark Ocean has been awarded the Grand Prix Best Film of Festival Award at the Wildlife Film Festival Rotterdam, besting the likes of BBC’s Our Frozen Planet.

As previously reported on, the natural history series supported by the Marine Institute follows Irish underwater cameraman Ken O’Sullivan as he searches the North Atlantic waters around Ireland for some of the largest marine wildlife ever to have lived, including fin and sei whales, killer whales and courtship aggregations of massive basking sharks.

The series was broadcast in May of this year to what RTE describes as “an incredibly positive public response”.

In presenting the award to Ken O’Sullivan, the judging panel said: “Myths about sea monsters have long shaped our exploitation and maltreatment of marine life. The film that wins the Flamingo Grand Prix 2023 debunks those myths with solid knowledge and, by showing the grandeur and beauty of ocean life, it makes you realise this should be loved and protected.

“The film is an epic voyage of discovery. Free diving along with the filmmaker himself, you actually come face-to-face with a multitude of sea creatures, ranging from sprat, herring, basking sharks to killer whales, common dolphins and fin whales. All lovingly portrayed in with great craftsmanship and years of experience.

“This engaging filmmaker grabs you and takes you down into the dark waters surrounding Ireland. We — the jury — all held our breath until the end.”

Published in Maritime TV

The Marine Institute recently hosted a Birdwatch Ireland training workshop for the winter Irish Wetland Bird Survey (I-WeBS).

The event was attended by 65 people and was used as a mechanism to introduce attendees to I-WeBS with a view to attracting prospective surveyors to the programme.

The workshop comprised lectures at the Marine Institute headquarters in Rinville, Oranmore and fieldwork on the surrounding shoreline of Galway Bay.

Welcoming attendees to the event, Francis O’Beirn of the Marine Institute said: “The Marine Institute is located adjacent to the inner Galway Bay Special Protection Area which is an extremely important bird site.

“The I-WeBS programme is a National monitoring programme to count over-wintering shorebird species and is hugely important to the management of this and other Natura sites in Ireland.

“Furthermore, these important data are also used by the Marine Institute in their advisory role to the Department of Agriculture and Marine.”

Birdwatch Ireland said it was delighted with the “record attendance at the event highlighting the public appetite to support biodiversity”.

Published in Marine Wildlife

The annual Irish Groundfish Survey (IGFS) for 2023 will be carried out by the Marine Institute off the North West, West and South Coasts of Ireland from Tuesday 31 October to Saturday 16 December.

The IGFS is a demersal trawl survey consisting of approximately 170 fishing hauls of 30-minute duration each in ICES areas VIa, VIIb, VIIg and VIIj.

Fishing will take place within a two-nautical-mile radius of the positions indicated in the appendices to Marine Notice No 68 of 2023, which can be downloaded below.

The survey will be conducted by the RV Celtic Explorer (callsign EIGB) which will display appropriate lights and signals. The vessel will be towing a high headline GOV 36/47 demersal trawl during fishing operations.

The Marine Institute requests that commercial fishing and other marine operators keep a two-nautical-mile area around the tow mid-points clear of any gear or apparatus during the survey period outlined above.

Further details can be found in the Marine Notice attached below.

Published in Fishing

The final meeting of JPI Oceans Joint Action on ‘Ecological Aspects of Microplastics’ was held in Galway on 14-15 September, as previously reported on

During the two-day event hosted by the Marine Institute, research teams from the six funded JPI Oceans projects detailed their findings and summarised the impacts and outputs of the projects — including scientific publications, education materials, policy briefings for stakeholders and monitoring tools.

The combination of warming sea temperatures, ocean acidification and the accumulation of microplastics represents a substantial threat to marine life and ecosystems and, potentially, to human health.

Microfibres and microplastics are everywhere in the marine environment, with particles from car tyres and cigarette butts as being of particular concern, owing to their toxicity.

Over time, microplastic particles degrade and particles become smaller and are much more difficult to measure. Studies show that biofilms that form on these microplastic particles — termed the “plastisphere” — harbour viruses and microorganisms with unknown impacts on organisms that consume them.

Another study described how jellyfish species may serve as a good indicator of the level of microplastics pollution based on the accumulation of ingested plastic found in jellyfish samples, although further research is also needed to determine the long-term effects on jellyfish in terms of their growth and reproductive functioning.

Attendees at the recent final meeting of JPI Oceans Joint Action on ‘Ecological Aspects of Microplastics’, hosted by the Marine Institute in Galway on 14-15 SeptemberAttendees at the recent final meeting of JPI Oceans Joint Action on ‘Ecological Aspects of Microplastics’, hosted by the Marine Institute in Galway on 14-15 September

The meeting also provided an opportunity to connect the research outputs with key EU initiatives addressing plastic pollution.

In the first session of the meeting, John Hanus, the European Commission’s director general of innovation, and Luis Francisco Ruiz-Orejon of the Commission’s Joint Research Centre detailed the data gathered on marine litter and microplastics to date and the importance of the joint effort from research and monitoring teams across Europe continuing to ensure the ‘Good Environmental Status’ of our oceans.

Furthermore, potential cooperation opportunities between JPI Oceans-funded research partners and the European Commission were presented by highlighting the activities of the EU Mission ‘Restore our Ocean and Waters’ and a range of existing and forthcoming EU legislation to tackle the problem of marine litter.

Dr Niall McDonough, chair of JPI Oceans and director of policy, innovation and research services at the Marine Institute said: “This meeting was a great success. The researchers presented the results of almost a decade of work on the sources, spread and impacts of microplastic pollution in the marine environment.

“This issue has only come to the fore in the past 15 years and we are playing catch-up in terms of the science and the measures we can take to address the problem.

“The meeting also demonstrated the key role that JPI Oceans plays in bringing the best international experts together to conduct cutting-edge research that has a direct benefit to society. I congratulate the research teams on their outstanding work. But they also gave us a clear message that there is a lot more to do.”

Published in Marine Science

The Marine Institute’s Explorers Education Programme team recently took part in the launch of a series of new primary-school education resources, Explorers: Turtle Talk with Sea Turtles, at their recent team training held in Laois.

Patricia Orme, corporate services director with the Marine Institute, congratulated the Explorers team involved in creating the resources.

“The books, presentations, and short videos all provide teachers with practical content to help develop children’s competencies,” she said. “It is also great to see that themes that explore how to help reduce plastics in the ocean and how to mitigate climate change are keenly promoted throughout the sea turtle books.”

The resource pack is freely available to download from the Explorers website and supports cross-curricular teaching, STEM and learning about Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It includes creating turtle words and mind-maps, writing poems and songs and describing a turtle’s life cycle, as well as making tote bags and turtle toys from recycled fabrics.

“It is also wonderful to see the Explorers outreach team’s enthusiasm for creating five life-size sea-turtles ‘far from open water’,” Orme added.

“The five turtles — leatherback, loggerhead, Kemp’s Ridley, hawksbill and green — are now being spotted around the country, inspiring sea turtle madness and mayhem. I am sure we will see many more of these magnificent animals being created in the classrooms, inspiring new stories and adventures.”

‘Scientists now understand that leatherback turtles are long-distance seasonal visitors to Irish waters’

Explorers: Turtle Talk with Sea Turtles is packed with information and facts, and takes the teachers and children on a journey of species identification, habitats, location and lifecycle. It also follows the journey of the five species that have been recorded in Irish waters — some caught in ocean currents and others that purposefully come to Ireland to track their favourite food: jellyfish.

Cushla Dromgool-Regan of the Explorers programme and lead author of the information books, workbooks and presentations, said that she is “delighted with the uptake of the books and eagerness of the outreach team, teachers and children who are planning to use these resources to learn more about the ocean over the next term.

“The books are full of descriptive fun facts and information about sea turtles from around the world that will fascinate children and teachers alike.

“Scientists now understand that leatherbacks are long-distance seasonal visitors to Irish waters, migrating to temperate waters to feed and returning to their native waters to mate and to nest. The largest leatherback ever recorded was a male, washed ashore in Wales in 1988, weighing in at 916 kg. It measured almost 3m overall and 2.5m across the span of its front flippers,” Dromgool-Regan said.

All turtles found in EU waters are strictly protected under the Habitats Directive, which aims to conserve rare and threatened species. Six of the seven species around the world are under threat and now face extinction, and are listed as either ‘vulnerable’, ‘endangered’ or ‘critically endangered’ on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List.

“Many individuals and organisations are helping to promote the conservation of these animals and the habitats in which they live,” Dromgool-Regan added. “Engagement at all levels is required to support these efforts. We all have an important role to play in changing our behaviour and caring for our environment, and it is wonderful to see children keen to take up this challenge.”

Published in Marine Science

Inland Fisheries Ireland’s West/North West team were the winners of 2023’s Annual Inter Agency Sea Angling Challenge.

Now in its 22nd year, the 2023 event took place in Clew Bay, Co Mayo on Friday 8 September with competitors representing IFI, the Marine Institute and other marine agencies.

The yearly event began in 2001 as an idea from staff of the two agencies. These friends and colleagues have been a part of the organising team since its inception, which has helped ensure participants have consistently high-quality angling options in the selected competition areas.

In addition to the relaxing hook and line fishing that takes place, the aims of the event are to provide an informal networking opportunity, increase and improve awareness of sea angling (particularly among newer staff) and provide opportunities to discuss issues within the sport.

Patricia Orme, director of corporate services at the Marine Institute said: “The annual angling challenge is a fantastic way for staff from multiple Irish marine agencies to build connections and learn more about the area of angling, all while taking part in some friendly competition. We hope to see the event continue for many more years.”

The social and educational event allows anglers to enjoy the productive marine waters off the coast of Ireland.

In recent years, teams have included current and former staff from IFI River Basin Districts, the Marine Institute and Sea Fisheries Protection Agency (SFPA). They have also been joined over the years by teams from Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) and the Loughs Agency.

Published in Angling

The Department of Transport has been advised by Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland (SEAI) that the Marine Institute will undertake site investigation survey works at the Atlantic Marine Energy Test Site (AMETS) in Co Mayo.

The survey is expected to be completed over a 10-day period from Sunday 17 September, subject to weather and operational constraints.

Geophysical and geotechnical survey work and benthic sampling will be carried out at Test Area A, 16km from Belderra Strand, and Test Area B, 6km from Belderra Strand on the Erris Peninsula. Benthic sampling will be carried out along the proposed cable corridor at AMETS.

The survey vessel RV Celtic Explorer (callsign EIGB) will carry out the site investigation works. Throughout operations, the vessel will be displaying appropriate lights and shapes, and will also be restricted in its ability to manoeuvre.

Other vessels operating in the AMETS area are requested to give the survey vessel a wide berth during survey operations. Mariners are also advised to keep continuous watch on VHF Channel 16 when navigating the survey area at AMETS.

Coordinates and a map of the survey areas as well as contact details can be found in Marine Notice No 55 of 2023, attached below.

Published in Power From the Sea

The Joint Action ‘Ecological Aspects of Microplastics’ was launched as one of JPI Oceans’ pilot activities to study the sources, distribution and impact of microplastics in the marine environment.

Since 2014, 15 European countries and Brazil have committed €18.2 million for 10 pan-European research projects on the ecological aspects of microplastics in the marine environment under the framework of JPI Oceans.

Within the second call, six projects were selected for funding and started their work in 2020.

As we reach the end of the three-year term of the projects, the teams’ leading these endeavours will unveil their findings on 14 and 15 September at the Marine Institute in Rinville, Co Galway.

Dr Niall McDonough, chair of JPI Oceans and director of policy innovation and research support services at the Marine Institute said: “This forum provides an important opportunity for scientists, policymakers and research funders to discuss and learn from the research outcomes from these 10 marine microplastics projects.

“The assembly serves as a bridge to other European initiatives like the EU Mission: Restore our Ocean and Waters by 2030 and the EU4Ocean Coalition for Ocean Literacy. We are hoping to agree on how to best communicate these results to decision-makers and stakeholders and to ensure tangible, lasting impact.”

A highlight of the meeting, in partnership with the Plastic Pirates go Europe! campaign, is a microplastics sampling exercise along the beautiful shores of Galway Bay, allowing hands-on participation among attendees.

Published in Marine Science
Page 1 of 46

Forty Foot Swimming Spot on Dublin Bay

The 'Forty Foot' is a rocky outcrop located at the southern tip of Dublin Bay at Sandycove, County Dublin from which people have been swimming in the Irish Sea all year round for 300 years or more. It is popular because it is one of few spots between Dublin city and Greystones in County Wicklow that allows for swimming at all stages of the tide, subject to the sea state.

Forty Foot History

Traditionally, the bathing spot was exclusively a men's bathing spot and the gentlemen's swimming club was established to help conserve the area.

Owing to its relative isolation and gender-specific nature it became a popular spot for nudists, but in the 1970s, during the women's liberation movement, a group of female equal-rights activists plunged into the waters and now it is also open to everyone and it is in the control of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council.

Many people believe that swimming in extremely cold water is healthy and good for the immune system.

Is it safe to swim at the Forty Foot?

The Forty-Foot is a great place to swim because there is always enough water to get a dip but like all sea swimming, there are always hazards you need to be aware of.   For example, a lot of people like to dive into to the pool at the Forty-foot but there are submerged rocks that can be hazardous especially at low water.  The Council have erected signs to warn people of the underwater dangers. Other hazards include slippy granite cut stone steps that can often be covered with seaweed and of course marine wildlife including jellyfish that make their presence felt in the summer months as do an inquisitive nearby Sandycove seal colony.

The Forty-foot Christmas Day swim

A Dublin institution that brings people from across Dublin and beyond for a dip in the chilly winter sea. Bathers arrive in the dark from 6 am and by noon the entire forty foot is a sea of red Santa hats!