Ireland Weeks 4 & 5

Unfortunately, I have been extremely busy with the Coastwatch Survey and I haven’t been able to update my blog as much as I would have liked to. So here is a quick recap of the highlights of my internship since my last post.

First off, Christine (my co-intern) returned back to the states as her internship came to an end. This left me with much more responsibility. My main tasks after she left were to book survey units and send confirmation emails and also to train any individuals and groups interested in doing the Coastwatch survey. I was also responsible for mailing out supplies such as nitrate test kits and survey forms which filled up most of my days.

Hook Head, County Wexford

Right before Christine left, Karin (my Supervisor) and I went to Hook Head, County Wexford to do a training for a group of German Students visiting Ireland. While at Hook Head we discovered baby Blue Rayed Limpets living on Sea Spaghetti (Seaweed) which was an extraordinary find as not much is known about their lifecycle. While in Hook Head we also saw a Honeycomb Reef, which is built by a worm, and is experiencing declines throughout Ireland. As most people know I am an avid birder and I was very excited to see two Hen Harriers hunting in the meadows above our survey unit.

The German students we trained.

The German students we trained with the Honeycomb reef.

Honeycomb Reef

Honeycomb Reef.

Honeycomb Reef closeup.

Honeycomb Reef closeup.

Honeycomb Worm that builds the reef.

Honeycomb Worm that builds the reef.

Irish Town Nature Park/ Ringsend Dump

The past few weeks I have done around 35 surveys on my own. The area around Ringsend and The Irish Town Nature Park was an area that I did that was very interesting. This area was four units or 2km of surveying, but I actually walked 4 km because I had to walk back. In total I walked about 10 km that day.

This area was originally a dump and was left to return to nature. This coastline here is dominated by hard erosion control in order to prevent the ocean from eroding the dump site. However, the erosion control is very narrow in some points allowing for some erosion of the cliff. This is apparent as you can see layers of plastic and old bottles sticking out of the cliff face. This is troubling as we don’t know exactly what is in the dump and sea levels will only continue to rise.

One of the things I learned from the Environmental and Planning Issues in Coastal Communities class with Mark Hafen was that communities must locate critical infrastructure away from areas that are prone to erosion or sea level rise. In class we talked mostly about hospitals and power stations being located away from dangerous, but I think a dumpsite could also be included as critical infrastructure.

There is also lots of litter surrounding this area. Mostly in the form of plastic bottles and cans (It seems like a popular place for people to drink). This may be easily remedied by adding more waste bins for users of this area.

There were some good things about this area though. A seagrass bed is growing just off the shore, which is a positive sign of water quality. Seagrass beds are very important habitats for juvenile fish and shellfish, most notably scallops. Scallops should be very familiar to people in the Tampa Bay area because just to our north lies Homassassa, which supports a very large bay scallop fishery. While at Ringsend I also found a large variety of shells and lots of birds feeding on them. These shells included Cockles, Muscles, and Razor Shells. I also found evidence of sand masons and lug worms.

Ringsend dump/ Irish Town Nature Park and mud flats.

Ringsend dump/ Irish Town Nature Park and mud flats.

Eroding cliff face that is exposing landfill materials.

Eroding cliff face that is exposing landfill materials.

Seagrass Bed with lug worm casts.

Seagrass Bed with lug worm casts.

Shells I found at Ringsend.

Shells I found at Ringsend. They include Muscles, Cockles, Elliptical Trough, Native Oyster, Baltic Tellin, Edible Periwinkle, and a crab.

Sand Mason tubes.

Sand Mason tubes.

Bull Island Survey

Bull island is an island that came into existence as a result of human actions to keep a channel clear for navigation.  In 1761, a stone pier was built which trapped sand. This eventually collected so much that an island formed that was large enough to support a golf course!

Bull island is an important area for migratory and wading birds and is a part of the Unesco Biosphere reserve and a Natura 2000 site (bird sanctuary). Despite these designations there is a remarkable amount of litter on the shores. Most of this trash seems to come from the road across the bay from the island. While surveying Bull Island I found some disturbing thins such as a sewage inflow, a used syringe, and various types of litter. The most common things were cotton buds made of plastic (q-tips) and plastic bottles. There is also a notable lack of signage to let people know that this is a designated area.

It wasn’t all bad things though. There is a huge variety of birds at bull island that including (but not limited to): Grey Herons, Oyster catchers, Red Shanks, Bar-tailed godwits, Curlews, Turnstones, Little Egrets, Brent Geese, Shelducks, a variety of gulls, Peregrine Falcons, and Eurasian Kestrels. The mudflats here also support large numbers of muscles and cockles.


Syringe at Bull Island.

Cotton buds or Q-tips

Cotton buds or Q-tips


Bad Picture of Oystercatchers (upper left) and Red Shanks (Below).

Brent Geese, a migratory bird to Ireland.

Brent Geese, a migratory bird to Ireland.

One comment

  1. xiaominliu · November 5, 2015

    Birds !!!!

    So glad to hear you use the information from Dr. Hafen’s class 🙂 Great idea about the some infrastructure should put away from the ocean.

    Work out everyday…walking 🙂

    Thank you so much for sharing 😉

    Enjoying the days in Ireland !!!



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