Great yellow bumblebee and Atlantic salmon among endangered species in Ireland

The great yellow bumblebee and the Atlantic salmon are among Ireland’s most endangered species.

According to Biodiversity Ireland (BI), there are 40,000 species of wildlife documented on the island, and 20% of those are threatened.

Some of our most endangered species include the curlew, the European eel, and the freshwater pearl mussel.

There has been a 97% decline in the curlew population in a period of just 20 years. In the late 1980s, there were 5,000 breeding pairs here; now there are only 130.

In relation to the wild Atlantic salmon, their population has declined by 60% in the last 40 years.

Biodiversity Ireland cites sea lice, ocean warming, overfishing, and pollution as some of the causes behind their decline.

The great yellow bumblebee, while widely distributed on the island of Ireland in the past, can now only be spotted in a few places, with the Mullet Peninsula in Mayo having the healthiest population.

The white skate fish, which has now only two refuges here, in Galway Bay and off the coast of Tralee, is listed by BI as being “critically endangered”.

“These are the only two known refuges for this species in the northeastern Atlantic,” said a BI spokesperson. “It has been assessed as critically endangered in Ireland.”

Another endangered Irish species is the wall, a brown and orange butterfly that flies in dry, open habitats.

“It has suffered a dramatic contraction in the range of over 50% in Ireland in the last 20 years and is now absent from many areas where once it was common,” said BI.

Other endangered Irish species include the thrift clearwing moth, the alpine saxifrage flower, and the twite bird, which is similar in appearance to the female linnet.

The wildlife body tracks species through a variety of means including through citizen scientists.

So far this year, the Irish public has submitted 50,000 sightings of species to the organisation’s website.

Cork has one of the most active groups of citizen scientists in the country.

The speckled wood butterfly is the most recorded species on the citizen scientist portal.

BI has just published information on the top 10 most “curious” distributions of species here.

The gatekeeper butterfly, for example, is confined to the southern and eastern coasts between west Kerry and Wicklow.

“Studying species that have restricted distributions in Ireland tells us a great deal about the environmental and ecological conditions necessary for their survival, and can provide valuable insights into how factors such as climate and land use change are impacting on the environment,” said BI.

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