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Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

A Harbour Seal photographed at Dun Laoghaire Marina on Dublin Bay, Ireland. Also known as the common seal, is a true seal found along temperate and Arctic marine coastlines of the Northern Hemisphere. The most widely distributed species of pinnipeds, they are found in coastal waters of the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans, Baltic and North seas. Photo: AfloatA photograph of a Harbour Seal taken at Dun Laoghaire Marina on Dublin Bay, Ireland. Also known as the common seal, this species can be found along temperate and Arctic marine coastlines throughout the Northern Hemisphere. They are the most widely distributed species of pinnipeds and can be found in the coastal waters of the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans, as well as the Baltic and North Seas. Photo: Afloat

Marine Environment, Science, wildlife, weather & Ocean energy
Pictured at the announcement of the launch of the 2024  BIM Innovation Studio are, Left to Right: Jessica Giannoumis, Aquatech Community Manager, Hatch Blue; Richard Donnelly, Director of Development and Innovation, BIM; Wayne Murphy, Co-Founder of Hatch Blue; Caroline Bocquel, CEO BIM and Colm Lynch, CEO of Aquamonitrix, winner of the 2023 BIM Aquatech Business of the Year
Aquatech businesses are urged to apply for a new mentoring programme which Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) describes as “groundbreaking”. The sector has just attracted a €15 million investment from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), according to BIM. Minister for…
The Wild Atlantic...Sand Artist Manuel Frolich, putting the finishing touches to his sand artwork on Ballybunion North Beach (Ladies Beach) County Kerry to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the iconic Wild Atlantic Way - Launched in 2014, the longest defined coastal routes in the world, which stretches for 2600 km from Cork to Donegal. At the anniversary, were staff of Wild Atlantic Way (Fáilte Ireland) in Kerry, Sharon Houlihan, Declan Murphy and Veronica O'Connor
Tourism is now worth €3billion per year on the Wild Atlantic Way, an increase of 59% on 2013, according to Fáilte Ireland. This growth has contributed to the creation of an additional 35,000 jobs, with tourism now supporting 121,000 jobs…
Karin Dubsky of Coastwatch
Progress on eradicating single use plastics which are so harmful to the marine environment will be discussed at a workshop hosted by Coastwatch later this month. The “Coastwatch and more4nature Earth Day 2024 workshop” will celebrate the disappearance of most…
Ireland South MEP Seán Kelly
Offshore renewable energy will receive a boost with the EU’s decision to withdraw from the international Energy Charter Treaty, according to Ireland South MEP Seán Kelly. The treaty, which dates back to 1998, was “designed to protect energy companies at…
A precision bomb-strike in the heart of Howth village? Not quite. The site of the old Royal Hotel in Howth has now been cleared for an access road to the new Balscadden Apartments
It may have been recently known as the boarded-up Baily Court Hotel. Yet for many in Howth, it was still the modestly-sized Royal Hotel. Once upon a time, it was the heart of the village, a reminder that way back…
US Ambassador to Ireland, Claire Cronin (second from right) with (from left) the Marine Institute’s Fiona Grant, Dr Niall McDonough and Joe Silke during her visit to the institute’s Galway headquarters on Friday 5 April
US Ambassador to Ireland, Claire Cronin visited the Marine Institute’s national headquarters in Galway last Friday (8 April) to celebrated the strong ties in marine science and technology that exist between the two nations. The visit provided an opportunity for…
File image of Elephant Island off Antarctica
The Ocean Race is providing “critical” data to international scientists studying the impact of climate change and plastic pollution on ocean health. Following the 2022-23 edition of the round-the-world race — when all five IMOCA racing boats gathered over 4.3-million…
The EPA says it is inviting proposals from the research community for “innovative projects to support the development and implementation of environmental policies in Ireland
Water quality is a research topic qualifying for grants of up to €14.5 million offered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA says it is inviting proposals from the research community for “innovative projects to support the development and…
Humpback whale number HBIRL55 spotted off the Irish coast
The Marine Institute’s director of policy, innovation and research services is leading a new cross-national support group for Atlantic Ocean research and innovation. Through a large-scale basin effort, representatives of 16 organisations from 12 countries including Ireland have joined forces…
NG Worker
The Department of Transport has been advised that Next Geosolutions will perform shallow geotechnical surveys, pUXO ID surveys and KP5 Omega Loop surveys as part of the Celtic Interconnector Project cable route between the South-East Coast of Ireland and the…
One last sighting of the humpback whale freed from ropes by Penlee RNLI on Easter Sunday evening
A humpback whale caught in fishing ropes off the coast of Cornwall in south-west England has been saved thanks to the efforts of local rescuers. According to Marine Industry News, the whale known locally as “Ivy” became entangled in Mounts…
The endangered Upokohue/Hector’s dolphin
SailGP has been called out by Greenpeace’s executive director in New Zealand/Aotearoa over its response to a race cancellation prompted by the presence of dolphins on the racecourse. Racing was postponed on Saturday 23 March at the second annual New…
In Galway, the sea breached the Salthill promenade, flooding the Toft carpark and the Seapoint area close to the Atlantaquaria
Over 34,000 homes and businesses are reported to have suffered power outages due to Storm Kathleen, as southerly to south-westerly gale force winds swept across the western seaboard. In Galway, the sea breached the Salthill promenade, flooding the Toft carpark…
Inis Oírr pier on Friday evening as Storm Kathleen makes her presence felt off the Galway coast
As Storm Kathleen is forecast to sweep up the Atlantic seaboard, Aran Ferries has cancelled a number of sailings to the Aran islands this weekend. The company which runs its ferry service from Ros-a-Mhíl, Co Galway, says there will be…
Storm Kathleen: Strong and fast winds will bring disruption across Ireland
Storm Kathleen has prompted Galway City Council to close access to roads and car parks and to distribute sandbags to areas vulnerable to potential flooding. A yellow wind warning for Ireland has already been issued by Met Éireann for the…
The large metal marker buoy found washed ashore at Ballymoney near Gorey, Co Wexford
A marker buoy that washed ashore in Co Wexford this week has been traced to as far away as the US state of Louisiana. The large metal buoy was found on Wednesday (3 April) on the coast at Ballymoney near…

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.”