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Marine Environment, Science, wildlife, weather & Ocean energy
Taoiseach Micheal Martin speaking at “The Renewable Energy Opportunity for the West of Ireland” conference 
hosted today by Galway Harbour Company, in the G Hotel, Galway.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has endorsed plans for Galway to become the State's first "hydrogen hub". The plan was outlined when Mr Martin gave the keynote speech at a conference hosted by the Port of Galway. A "hydrogen hub" is a…
The Kinsale Area gas fields are located in the Celtic Sea, approximately 40km to 70km off the south coast of County Cork
May 10 has been set as the start date for decommissioning works on the subsea structure in the Kinsale and Seven Heads Gas Fields on the South Coast. The Kinsale Energy company which will undertake the work has told the…
Diving duck species have recorded the greatest decline across 97 lakes, rivers and coastal estuaries according to a new wetland survey. 15 waterbird species are “stable or increasing”, while 20 species are declining, Birdwatch Ireland reports. The Irish Wetland Bird…
Silting has filled up Sligo Port but dredging not viable says report. The scene above AFLOAT adds is taken from the bridge of Ceg Cosmos, a general cargo when on the approaches to the north-west harbour which is the only port located between Galway and Derry.  The digger on the hold deck hatch cover is used for handling cargoes such as round timber (logs).
There are fears for the future of Sligo harbour (a commercial port) after it was revealed on Monday that it is full of sludge which would cost millions of euro to clear, money that’s not available and dredging is not…
RCC Faire
Revenue’s plans to acquire two new patrol vessels will boost the State’s coastal and offshore search-and-rescue capabilities, it’s been claimed. As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the two new ships will replace Revenue’s existing cutters and new used to expand its…
Launching the National Biodiversity Conference 2022 (from left to right): Malcolm Noonan TD, Minister of State for Heritage and Local Government, Oonagh Duggan, Head of Advocacy, Birdwatch Ireland and member of the National Biodiversity Forum Anne Murray, Biodiversity Officer Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, member of the National Biodiversity Forum Professor Tasman Crowe, School of Biology and Environmental Science, University College Dublin and Chair of the National Biodiversity Forum
Fishers, scientists and environmental activists have been urged to participate in the Government’s national biodiversity conference in Dublin in June. Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan said the event at Dublin Castle from June 8th to…
Boats alongside the Old Pier at Keelbeg in Union Hall, West Cork
Following recommendations from an independent inspection of the Old Pier at Keelbeg in Union Hall, Cork County Council says that “in order to improve safety” it is obliged to close the pier to public access. The move has been met…
Wong Cheuk Yin Cayden, a student at St Columba’s College in Dublin, combined digital animation with live action, scripting and voiceover to create his video for the EPA’s “ The Story of Your Stuff” competition
The negative impact of paper tissues on water consumption and pollution is the theme of the winning entry in an annual Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) contest for young people. Wong Cheuk Yin Cayden, a student at St Columba’s College in…
A currach with the Mayo islands of Inishturk and Achill in the background. Irish island tourism is to be monitored with an EU-approved system
A European system of measuring the impact of tourism on communities is to be introduced on a number of islands off the west Irish coast this summer. Three Aran islands and Inishbofin off Galway, along with Donegal’s Tory and Arranmore,…
European Tracking Network’s annual meeting
This week the Loughs Agency welcomed Europe’s top marine scientists to the Northwest for the European Tracking Network’s (ETN) annual meeting, with delegates from across the continent attending the three-day event in Derry. The conference, which is funded by the…
The Sand Quay refurbishment at Monkstown Bay is a work in progress and there has been a thumbs up for the new surface that replaces the grass. 
Monkstown Bay boaters in Cork Harbour got a pre-season boost with a general tidying up of the town's Sand Quay and boat park extensively used by Monkstown Bay Sailing Club (MBSC). The improvements come as the Cork Lower Harbour Main…
One of the installed turbines at Hornsea Two offshore wind farm
Ørsted, the world leader in offshore wind, has acquired a majority stake in the 100 MW Salamander floating offshore wind development project on the Scottish coast, entering a joint venture (JV) partnership with Simply Blue Group, a leading Irish blue…
Diver video is recorded to monitor the seagrass condition around the entire circumference of new eco-friendly moorings on Strangford Lough
At the end of March, the Strangford and Lecale Partnership started a new pilot study of Advanced Mooring Systems in Strangford Lough. It is the first study of its kind in Northern Ireland, and these eco-friendly moorings will avoid or…
Taoiseach Micheál Martin is to address a renewable energy conference hosted by the Port of Galway next week. Mr Martin will give the keynote speech at the event, entitled “The renewable energy opportunity for the west of Ireland”. The event…
Lough Derg Blueway - Fáilte Ireland says its research shows that 73%* of domestic tourists engaged in outdoor activities on their most recent overnight trip, ranging from walking and hiking, to swimming, kayaking and canoeing.
Three “blueways” developed across four Irish counties are “the first in the world” to be accredited as such, Fáilte Ireland says. “Blueways” encourage the use of lakes, canals, rivers and coastal environments for walking, cycling, swimming, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding…
Rhoda Twombly, Secretary of Comhdháil Oileán na hÉireann, the Islands’ Federation
No other community has experienced such a dramatic population decline as the offshore islands, according to the Islands’ Federation In 1841, the population on the islands was 34,219. By 2016 that number had reduced to 2,627. “These figures have not…

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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