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Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

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Marine Environment, Science, wildlife, weather & Ocean energy
Philanthropist Wendy Schmidt made history at the Barcolana 54 in Trieste, Italy, becoming the first woman and the first American to win the world’s largest sailing race
In honour of her victory as the first woman and first American to win the world’s largest sailing race, the Barcolana 54, philanthropist Wendy Schmidt announced today she will support the educational outreach and conservation activities of the Marine Biodiversity…
The proposed location of the Valentia Island Offshore Renewable Energy Array has been selected to have minimal impact on all key environmental, heritage, tourism, fishing and shipping contexts in the seas surrounding Valentia. The proposed site is more than 22 km off the West coast of Valentia in deep waters
A community-led renewable energy project on Kerry’s Valentia island which is seeking to build a floating offshore wind farm has applied for permission to conduct site investigations. The Valentia Island Energy Ltd Project states in its application that it recognises…
Mackerel freshly caught and piled up for sale
Mercury levels of fish and shellfish landed by fishing boats at Irish ports are low and well within EU guidelines for human consumption, as underscored by a recent briefing from UCD’s Institute of Food and Health. However, as Derek Evans…
Jack Porter, Loughs Agency; Angela Dobbins, Deputy Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council; Mark Langtry (Mark the Science Guy); Zach James, Loughs Agency
Loughs Agency’s 'Water Warriors' events took place this week in the Foyle and Carlingford catchment areas. The events, which form part of the Agency’s Foyle & Carlingford Ambassador Programmes, attracted hundreds of post-primary pupils to partake in a 'fully immersive'…
President Michael D. Higgins was among the 160 guests at an event held in Cork Harbour on Friday to launch the European Union’s Mission to protect and restore ocean and inland waters in the Atlantic and Arctic regions by 2030. The National Maritime College of Ireland was the venue for the gathering which brought together Ministers and high-level representatives from Atlantic and Arctic countries, the Lord Mayors of Cork city and county and actors and stakeholders from government, academia, business and civil society
Cork has become the first city to sign up to the European Commission’s Charter to restore oceans and waters. Under the ‘Horizon Europe Programme,’ the Commission has launched several ‘Missions’ which it says are focused on “critical areas, to bring…
Kestutis Sadauskas, Deputy Director-General, DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Fiona Grant, MI  and John Bell, Director of Healthy Planet at the Cork Harbour launching of a major initiative to protect ocean and inland waters in the Atlantic and Arctic by 2030
President Michael D. Higgins was among the 160 guests at an event held in Cork Harbour on Friday to launch the European Union’s Mission to protect and restore ocean and inland waters in the Atlantic and Arctic regions by 2030.…
From left to right Dr. Ciaran Kelly, Director of Fisheries Ecosystems Advisory Services, Marine Institute, Mr. Charlie McConalogue T.D, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Dr. Paul Connolly, CEO, Marine Institute
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD, visited the Marine Institute in Galway today and received the Marine Institute’s annual 2022 Fish Stock Book. The detailed annual publication provides the latest impartial scientific advice on the status…
NKT Victoria
NKT will be carrying out an ROV cable survey of the East-West Interconnector (EWIC) cable on behalf of EirGrid to determine the condition of the cable laid 10 years ago. The EWIC runs between Deeside in north Wales and Woodland…
The research vessel Tom Crean in port
Research survey TC22016 will be carried out in the southern Irish Sea off the Wexford/Wicklow coast by University College Dublin from next Wednesday 30 November to Friday 9 December, subject to weather and operational constraints. The aim of this research…
Ocean Winds and Bord na Móna today launched a major new offshore wind partnership at an event with Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment in Dun Laoghaire Harbour
Ocean Winds and Bord na Móna has launched a major new offshore wind partnership at an event with Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment in Dublin. The partnership brings together leading international offshore wind energy expert…
Offshore wind farms will be affected by a new EU council regulation to ensure "windfall gains" from the energy sector. The Government says it has decided to place a cap on all market revenues of non-gas electricity generators, whereby excess…
Hildegarde Naughton, Minister of State at the Department of Transport and Dr Paul Connolly, CEO of the Marine Institute chat to pupils from Scoil Iósaif Naofa Oranmore Boys School, Co Galway who were presented with the Explorers Ocean Champion Award for the Best STEM and Cross Curricular project
Pupils of Scoil Iósaif Naofa, Oranmore Boys National School in Co Galway have been presented with the Marine Institute’s Explorers Ocean Champion Award for the Best STEM and Cross Curricular project by Hildegarde Naughton, Minister of State at the Department…
Galway Paramedic Patrick Dunne, a keen kitesurfer and sailor, has set up a petition opposing controversial Beach Bye-Laws in Galway
Paramedic Patrick Dunne is a keen kitesurfer, windsurfer, sailor, swimmer and general watersports enthusiast who has volunteered with the RNLI. He has initiated a petition opposing Galway County Council’s new draft bye-laws which propose to ban watersports apart from swimming…
New LNG battery hybrid vessel in traffic at the Port of Gothenburg, Sweden - A newly built ship with special environmental and climate characteristics was christened at the Port of Gothenburg in November 2022. The vessel in question is an LNG/battery hybrid ship that already today meets IMO's 2030 target for shipping's carbon dioxide efficiency.
EU moves to ensure shipping uses low carbon fuels will have a “moderate” but not “dramatic” effect on the Irish economy, according to University of Galway economist Prof Alan Ahearne. As The Sunday Independent reports, research due to be published…
Carien Droppers  - The Dutch shipping expert warns Ireland should take into account navigational hazards posed by offshore wind farms in marine planning
Dutch shipping expert Carien Droppers has warned that Ireland should take into account navigational hazards posed by offshore wind farms in marine planning. Droppers, who spoke at last week’s “Navigating to 2050” conference hosted by Irish Lights in Dublin Castle,…
The skull collection labelled
Inishbofin residents have begun a petition seeking return of skulls taken by a British anthropologist from the island in 1890. Anthropologist Alfred Cort Haddon enlisted Irish medical student Andrew Dixon to help him when he removed 13 skulls from the…

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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