Coastwatch discoveries: Rare reefs and seagrass beds

 

VOLUNTEERS ACTING as “citizen scientists” have discovered rare honeycomb worm reefs, lush beds of protected Zostera seagrass and even the remains of a huge leatherback turtle during Coastwatch Ireland’s 25th anniversary survey.

The coastline survey was officially brought to a conclusion at the weekend by Minister for Heritage Jimmy Deenihan on a piece of muddy shore in Tralee bay, within sight of the 20m-high lookout tower of the new Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre.

Brent geese were grazing at one end of a huge seagrass meadow, dotted with cockles and lugworms and fringed by mussels and a wild native oyster bed – “an amazing complex of marine habitats”, according to Coastwatch co-ordinator Karin Dubsky.

“This bay is not only home to native oysters,” she said. “Coastwatch volunteers here, as well as on several other shores in Waterford, Sligo and Donegal, also found rare honeycomb reefs – but also picnic- and party-related rubbish in several locations.”

The Coastwatch team is now inputting all the data from surveyors, using a web-based mapping system, with a view to publishing the results at a conference at the European Commission’s offices in Dublin on November 30th. Details online at coastwatch.org