For all you need on the marine environment – covering the latest news and updates on marine science and wildlife, weather and climate, marine energy and Ireland’s coastal regions and communities – the place to be is Afloat.ie.
The Coastal Notes category covers a wide range of stories, events and developments that impact Ireland’s coastal regions and communities, whose lives and livelihoods are directly linked to the sea and Irish coastal waters.
Topics covered in Coastal Notes can be as varied as the rare discovery of sea creatures, a historic shipwreck with secrets to tell, or even a trawler’s net caught carrying much more than fish.
Other angles catching Coastal Notes’ attention are Ireland’s maritime museums, which are of national importance in maintaining access to and knowledge of our nautical heritage, and those which harness the sea using small boats based in ports where infrastructure and security are a problem, plying their trade along the wild and rugged west coast.
Coastal Notes tells stories that are arguably as varied as the environment they come from and that shape people’s interaction with the natural world and our relationship with the sea.
One of the greatest memories of any day spent sailing the Irish coast is an encounter with marine wildlife. It is a pleasure for young and old to see seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales in their own habitat. And as boaters lucky enough to have experienced it will attest, even the sighting of a distant dorsal fin can be the highlight of a day afloat. Was it a porpoise? Was it a whale? No matter how brief the glimpse, it is a privilege to share the seas with Irish marine wildlife.
Thanks to our location in the North Atlantic, there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of marine life to view. From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other marine animals, the Marine Wildlife category documents the most interesting stories around our shores. And we look forward to your comments, photos, links and video clips too!
The unique perspective of everyone who goes afloat, from coastal sailing and sea fishing to coastal kayaking and offshore yacht racing, is also valuable, as what they encounter can be great importance to organizations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG). Thanks to their work, we now know that we share the seas with dozens of species that also inhabit Ireland. But as impressive as the list is, experts say there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you hit the ocean waves, keep an eye out!
As an island in the North Atlantic, Ireland’s fate is decided by the weather more than many other European countries. When high winds cross the Irish Sea, ferry and shipping services are disrupted, disrupting our economy. When swollen waves crash into our shores, communities are inundated and fishermen brace for the impact – both to their vessels and to their livelihoods.
Keeping up with the weather is therefore as important for cruise ship passengers and fishing crew – for whom a small craft warning can mean the difference between life and death – as it is for coastal communities, where weather alerts timely can help protect homes and lives.
The weather affects us all, and Afloat.ie will keep you informed of how and why.
It is perhaps the work of the Irish research vessels RV Celtic Explorer and RV Celtic Voyager in the Atlantic Ocean that best highlights the essential nature of marine science for the future growth of the emerging ‘blue economy’ of ‘Ireland.
From marine research to development and sustainable management, Ireland is developing a strong and well-deserved reputation as an emerging center of excellence. From Wavebob ocean energy technology, aquaculture, weather buoys and oil exploration, the Marine Science category documents the work of Irish marine scientists and researchers and how they achieved leading roles in many European and international marine science bodies.
power of the sea
The message from the experts is clear: offshore wind and wave energy is the future. And as Ireland looks to the potential of the renewable energy sector, marine power generation will become a higher priority in the state’s ‘blue growth’ strategy.
The developments and activities of existing and planned projects in the pipeline of the wind and wave renewable energy sector, and those of the energy exploration industry, indicate the future of energy needs for the whole world, not just in Ireland. . And that’s not to mention the additional industries that marine energy projects can support in coastal communities.
Irish ports are already well placed to capitalize on investments in offshore renewable energy services. And Power From The Sea can even be good for marine life if done correctly.
Besides the green sector, our coastal waters are also teeming with oil and gas resources that many prospectors hope to exploit, although coastal and island dwellers are still unsure of the potential benefits or harms to their communities.
Ocean climate change
Our ocean and our climate are inextricably linked – the ocean plays a crucial role in the global climate system in several ways. These include absorbing excess heat from the atmosphere and absorbing 30% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity. But our marine ecosystems are 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 analyzes, models and projects the impacts of our changing oceans. Guidance and forward-looking projections of our oceans and climate are essential to creating effective policies and management decisions to protect our oceans.
Dr Paul Connolly, CEO of the Marine Institute, said: “Our ocean is fundamental to life on earth and affects many facets of our daily activities. One of the biggest challenges we face as a society is climate change. The strong international collaborations the Marine Institute has built over the decades facilitate a common focus on the evolution of our ocean climate and the development of new and improved ways to monitor it and track changes over time.
“Our knowledge and services help us observe these patterns of change and identify steps to take to safeguard our marine ecosystems for future generations.”
The Marine Institute’s annual Ocean Climate Research Survey, which has been ongoing since 2004, aids long-term monitoring of the deep-sea environment west of Ireland. This repeated survey, which takes place aboard the RV Celtic Explorer, allows scientists to establish baseline ocean 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 cruise is submitted to the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) and, in addition, the cruise contributes to national research such as the VOCAB project on ocean acidification and biogeochemistry, the “Clean Atlantic” on litter and the A4 project on marine climate change.
Dr Caroline Cusack, who coordinates science activities aboard the RV Celtic Explorer for the annual survey, said: “Generating long-term series to monitor ocean climate is essential to enable us to 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 dinghies (Interreg Atlantic Area Clean Atlantic project). New Argo floats have the ability to measure dissolved ocean and biogeochemical parameters from the ocean surface to a depth of 2,000 meters continuously for up to four years, providing important insights into 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 underground moored station and deployed a replacement M6 weather buoy, as part of Ireland’s observing network marine data buoys (IMDBON).
Funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, IMDBON is run by the Marine Institute in conjunction with Met Éireann and is designed to improve weather forecasting and safety at sea around Ireland . Data buoys are equipped with instruments that 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, navigation bulletins, gale and swell warnings as well as data for general public information and research.
“It’s only in the past 20 years that meteorologists and climatologists have really begun to understand the central role the ocean plays in determining our climate and our weather,” said Evelyn Cusack, lead forecasts at Met Éireann. “The real-time information provided by Ireland’s data buoy network is particularly important to our seafarers and rescue services. The M6 Atlantic data buoy provides vital information on swell waves generated by Atlantic storms. Although the weather and winds can be calm around our shores, there could be very heavy swells from Atlantic storms.