Donal Hickey: Explore your shore to find real treasure trove

.Early morning light illuminates the Galley Head Lighthouse against the brooding skies of an oncoming weather front in Co Cork.
.Early morning light illuminates the Galley Head Lighthouse against the brooding skies of an oncoming weather front in Co Cork.

Will we ever again take for granted the simple things we could no longer do during the lockdown? Like a walk on a beach.

With the easing of travel restrictions, there was almost a childish sense of excitement about being able to stroll again, for the first time in months on Rossbeigh Beach, on the Ring of Kerry.

Many other people were there, too, all happy to be breathing the healthy sea air.

As people respond to the magnetic pull of the sea, expect to see plenty of coastal images in the Irish Examiner’s readers’ photo competition.

Recently, there was a superb shot of a sunset taken from the boardwalk in Youghal, Co Cork, and it was just one of many.

Some strange wonders of the deep can be found on the shoreline. With ocean temperatures continuing to rise, many forms of life from warmer southern climes are moving northwards and are being seen along our coast

Anchovies usually found in the Mediterranean have been caught off Crookhaven, in West Cork, and people like Kevin Flannery, of Dingle Oceanworld, regularly come up with reports of sightings of rare fish in Irish waters. Anchovies may be tiny creatures, but there are also growing numbers of sharks, whales and dolphins.

And while warm water species such as trigger fish and moray eel are moving here, the downside is we could lose cold water species such as cod, Kevin points out.

Beach walkers might be interested to know that the National Biodiversity Data Centre (NBDC) has launched its Rocky Shore Safari in which citizen scientists are asked to take part.

This new survey focuses on recording plant and animal species in intertidal, rocky shore habitats. Dr Liam Lysaght, of the NBDC, says: “Despite being an island nation the importance of Ireland's intertidal biodiversity has not received the attention it deserves.

Explore Your Shore aims to get people more engaged in discovering Ireland's shoreline. New data will improve our knowledge of marine species distributions around the coast. In 2019, 1,400 records of such species were submitted. In short, the project wants to inspire people to get out and about on our coastline and discover a rich diversity of life.

The project also seeks to map the distribution of invasive marine species like wireweed, slipper limpet and Chinese mitten crab.

See: www.ExploreYourShore.ie 

Rocky shores can be treasure troves for lovers of marine life and they offer a variety of habitats for animals and plants, crabs, barnacles, starfish and a range of seaweeds, to mention just a few.

Also, to mark World Oceans Day, the Irish Wildlife Trust has launched a marine-themed photography contest to raise awareness of our marine wildlife. June 30 is the closing date for entries. See: iwt.ie

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