On Wednesday 27th April the Biosphere Partnership invited local Cllr’s and other decision makers to join them on a tour of the Dublin Bay UNESCO Biosphere. The weather was fine and everyone was in good spirits as they boarded the St. Bridget at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay.
The purpose of the trip was to showcase the biosphere by sharing its importance as a nature reserve and home to many important international species, but also to highlight the wealth of local cultural and historical heritage.
As we travelled down the River Liffey, through Dublin Port and out into Dublin Bay our guests were regaled with interesting stories from noted local Historian and Artist Peter Pearson.
Lorraine Bull, Biodiversity Officer for Dublin City Council provided commentary on the work undertaken by Dublin Port to support the tern populations with the installation of floating pontoons. These pontoons provide an advantageous breeding habitat and are difficult, although not impossible to reach from raiding rats.
Richard Curtin then shared his work with Clean Coasts who support local communities with clean-ups along the shore. This vital work prevents litter from entering our biosphere and causing harm to our local wildlife.
The St. Bridget then headed for Howth offering an opportunity to spy Lambay Island and Irelands Eye as we approached Howth Harbour.
A seal was spotted on the approach to the harbour, although it was a little too far out to be able to confirm if it was a Grey or Harbour seal, although needless to say if Brendan Price (Irish Seal Sanctuary) who would join us at Howth had been aboard he would have been able to tell.
Although not easy to spot from our vantage point on the water we heard tell of the recently rediscovered and repaired EIRE 6 sign and the significance of the EIRE signs around the coast of Ireland during World War II. Essentially they were used to inform pilots of their relative location to Britain.
At Howth we picked up a number of new passengers including Brendan Price of the Irish Seal Sanctuary and a few of his colleagues. We were then treated to a trip around Ireland’s Eye to see the amazing nesting colonies on the seaward side of the island after which Brendan regaled us with some poetry written by Rupert Barring…
Barnacle Bill was a lovely Grey Seal, fully nine feet in length he would be, and his salty fur coat had a thick heavy feel from many a year in the sea.
He’d proudly admit that his weight was a ton with a tum full of pollack and bream, but he’d climb up a rock just to bask in the sun with agility swift and supreme!
And there- bless his heart - he decided to doze on a bed you would find mighty hard! But which brought him sweet dreams and a blissful repose, while two of his ladies stood guard.
With my camera aiming at Barnacle Bill and wriggling along like an eel, I decided to try (with desire more than skill) to stalk this remarkable seal…
The vigilant wives with their elegant poise were alert! Like two trusty slaves and instinctively roused by some dubious noise slid silently into the waves.
But Bill slumbered on with a dream-happy head, until closer and closer I crept, and then it appeared I shared the same bed on which this leviathan slept!
Slowly I slithered along by his side as he lay on a tangle of “wrack” and with feelings of triumph pervaded with pride I found myself stroking his back!
Alas, dear old Bill changed his sea-wrinkled face into one of dismay and alarm, believing this block from the mad human race must surely intend him some harm!
With majestic upheaval he rose with regret from that throne which he held with devotion and by instinct - inbred - that he could not forget torpedoed right into the ocean!
As he swam in the sea and looked backwards at me I seemed to detect a sweet smile, which as sure as can be si,ply signified WE were the best of good freinds all the while!
On the approach to Dún Laoghaire we had the pleasure of learning about the campaign work undertaken by Karin Dubsky and friends through Coastwatch whilst Rita Hagen shared details of her work with seagrass, highlighting the value and importance of Seagrass both as a food source for the Light-bellied Brent Geese and for its ability to stabilise the seabed and mitigate the impact of wave action on the shore thereby offering some protection against coastal erosion.
Finally, Dean Eaton shared details of the work undertaken by the biosphere partnership including the invaluable support from the partner organisations (Dublin City Council, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, Fingal County Council, Dublin Port Authority, National Parks and Wildlife Service and Fáilte Ireland) to manage the biosphere across boundaries. Details were also provided of the biospheres main objectives:
- Conservation (natural and cultural heritage)
- Education and awareness raising
- Sustainable development
He also gave a brief update on their current programme before sharing the 2021 End of Year Report which provided greater detail of the work undertaken by the partner organisations.
Upon arrival in Dún Laoghaire we had the pleasure of visiting the Maritime Museum where Richard McCormack, President Emeritus shared with us some local stories and the history of the Maritime Museum.
We’re sure our guests went home with renewed knowledge and interest in our biosphere and we look forward to working with them over the coming years to ensure the protection of the Dublin Bay UNESCO Biosphere for now and generations to come.