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Marine Environment, Science, wildlife, weather & Ocean energy
The project on the Codling Bank in the Irish Sea is about 13 km off the east coast, close to Wicklow
The Codling Wind Park has submitted its application for a maritime area consent (MAC) as part of the Government’s streamlined procedure for marine planning. The renewable energy project on the Codling Bank in the Irish Sea is about 13 km…
DP1 Ondine Jule
Following survey works earlier this year, Lir Offshore Array will be completing geophysical survey works in the Irish Sea off counties Louth, Meath and Dublin as part of a scientific data-gathering exercise over the next six weeks. Survey company Ondine…
Dr Niall McDonough, Director of Policy, Innovation and Research Services at the Marine Institute
Our Shared Ocean, a collaboration between Irish Aid-Department of Foreign Affairs and the Marine Institute, was launched in Lisbon yesterday by Irish Ambassador to Portugal, Ralph Victory, on board the Irish Naval Service Vessel, L.E. George Bernard Shaw, during the…
Ireland is being represented at the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal by Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan
The Fair Seas campaign has welcomed Ireland’s contribution of almost 10 million euro to address ocean challenges faced by developing countries, including small island developing states. The funding was confirmed earlier this week by Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney…
AQUAMIS screenshot
Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue today (Tuesday 28 June) announced the launch of Phase 1 of the new state-of-the-art Aquaculture Information Management System (AQUAMIS). The online viewer was developed as part of Phase 1 of this project, which will develop an…
The RNLI’s most westerly shop in Ireland has opened its doors on Inis Mór, the largest of the Aran Islands, to raise vital lifesaving funds for the charity that saves lives at sea. The new shop which is located inside…
The Baltimore all-weather lifeboat crew
Baltimore RNLI was called out to provide a medical evacuation in the early hours of Sunday morning (26 June) from Sherkin Island off the coast of Baltimore, West Cork. The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their all-weather lifeboat at 00.57 am,…
Courtmacsherry Harbour Boat Club is welcoming visitors this summer until August as harbour dredging has been deferred
Long-awaited dredging in Courtmacsherry Harbour is being deferred.  As Afloat reported earlier this month, the dredging at the popular West Cork boating harbour had restrictions put in place for visiting boats in June for a planned three to four weeks…
Skellig Michael (Sceilg Mhichíl) lies 12km off the coast of Kerry
Kerry’s Skellig Michael may re-open to visitors on July 2nd, after a minor rockfall forced a temporary closure of the UNESCO world heritage site. The Office of Public Works (OPW) told RTÉ News that specialist teams assessed the site and…
Aran Islands RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat
Aran Islands RNLI on Inis Mór were called on to assist a local woman in need of medical attention on Wednesday evening, 22 June. The woman was transferred safely aboard the lifeboat by the volunteer crew shortly after 6.15pm and the…
False Bay in County Galway
The European Commission is proposing to set legally binding nature restoration targets on both sea and land. The Nature Restoration Law will apply to every EU member state and will complement existing laws and targets. The proposal has been welcomed…
The sixth-century monastic site is an internationally important habitat for seabirds
Birdwatch Ireland has expressed concern about the potential impacts of safety measures being taken on Skellig Michael, following last week’s rockfall which led to the temporary closure of the UNESCO world heritage site. The independent bird conservation organisation said it…
File image of Simon Coveney
Planned French military exercises near Irish waters have been halted, the Foreign Affairs Minister has confirmed. But as TheJournal.ie reports, Simon Coveney stopped short of declaring the drills cancelled outright or merely postponed, telling the Dáil today (Thursday 23 June)…
Dr. Paul Connolly, Marine Institute CEO, Dr Jorge Miguel Alberto de Miranda, IPMA, José Maria Costa, Portuguese Secretary of State for Maritime Affairs and Ralf Victory, Irish Ambassador to Portugal, attended the signing ceremony
The Marine Institute (MI - Ireland) and the Instituto Português do Mer e da Atmosfera (IPMA - Portugal) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Lisbon today. The MoU will enhance cooperation in the Atlantic Ocean area between the…
Patrick Murphy, chief executive of the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation
French military exercises near Irish waters which began yesterday (Tuesday 21 June) could have a significant impact on marine wildlife, says a marine group that’s called for a halt to the manoeuvres. The exercises, which are taking place over a…
Dr Maura Lydon of Queen’s University Belfast who has developed a sensor to detect
A new sensor to detect erosion of riverbeds and banks which can cause bridge collapse has been developed by a Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) researcher. The erosion, known as “scour”, is regarded as the leading cause worldwide of major structural…

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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