Green Scene: Basking Sharks and Climate Change Communities

The ‘Green Scene’ Series on Newstalk is a weekly update on energy and environmental matters with Pat Kenny and MaREI Director Brian Ó Gallachóir.

On August 4th, 2021, Prof Ó Gallachóir discussed Basking Sharks off the coast of Ireland and Climate Change Communities.

1.      Basking sharks off West Cork and Achill, and Sixgill shark off Co. Clare

1.      Thirty-five species of sharks have been recorded in Irish waters according to the Marine Institute

2.      Basking sharks are the second largest fish in the world – up to 12 metres in length and three-and-a-half tons weight.

3.      Achill in Co Mayo is a magnet for basking sharks during summer months.

4.      They were hunted in Irish waters for their valuable liver oil and processed at Purteen Harbour on Achill Island.

5.      The Achill shark fishing industry started in 1947 and in the busiest year, 1952, a catch of 1,808 was recorded.

6.      The industry collapsed in the in the 1970s and by 1984, just five basking sharks were caught.

7.      Now an endangered species, they’re back in Achill and people flock here to get a glimpse of them as they glide along our western seaboard.

8.      Irish conservationists and scientists have called on the Government to provide legal protection to basking sharks in Irish waters.

9.      20% of the global shark population inhabit our waters and but do not currently have the same legal protection as we see in UK waters and around Europe.

10.   An amendment to the Wildlife Act is currently under review to address this.

11.   Researcher Nicholas Payne from Trinity spent a week on the water off West Cork in which they managed to apply tags to four basking sharks.

12.   These electronic tags will accumulate data about the sharks’ behaviour and physiology as they move around the coast feeding on plankton.

13.   The goal is to learn more about the anatomy and physiology of these gentle giants and hopefully guide conservation efforts for this endangered marine wildlife species.

14.   Nick’s team also captured grabbed rare footage of a four-metre sixgill shark casually cruising in shallow waters off the coast of Clare.

15.   It’s a mystery why this species of shark normally found in depths of between 200 and 2,500 metres in tropical oceans is attracted to the Irish coast.

16.   Neither of these sharks pose any danger to humans

2.      How can Ireland’s creative community bring the urgency of climate change to the forefront?

1.      Creative Climate Action is a €2 million Government fund to use creative and artistic approaches to transform connection and awareness into climate action

2.      This week 14 successful projects were announced, selected from 166 proposals.

3.      Work on all 14 of these Creative Climate Action projects will begin immediately and will be completed by December 2022.

4.      On the Dingle Peninsula, an artist will work with traditional farmers and the Dingle Creativity Hub to highlight why diversification from current farming practices is necessary.

5.      Field Exchange will support farmers through a series of-farm based creative events to implement agricultural practices that combat climate change both in and above the soil in Tipperary.

6.      Stories of Change is an intergenerational creative roadshow travelling to four counties that will showcase local solutions to the climate crisis through the visual medium of photography, storytelling and food.

7.      Repair Acts Ireland is a 16-month pilot project that will highlight the care, repair and reuse of objects in Westmeath.

8.      Worker’s Villages will see The Irish Architecture Foundation work with residents of three Bord na Móna villages in the Midlands regarding the changing future for locals and will reimagine a more sustainable future for their communities.

9.      Part of a community engagement project that will radically reimagine the town’s energy supply, The Callan Energy Store – a pop-up energy store in the heart of Callan, Kilkenny – is an initiative led by Asylum Theatre and Loosysmokes.

10.   Working in Irish, Baint an Aeir/Hope it Rains will see artists and the community co-create renewable energy-generating public artworks in Connemara. 

11.   The KinShip Project will engage the public on climate action through a community creative action programme at Tramore Valley Park, a 170-acre park developed on a reclaimed landfill site in Cork City.

12.   Ripple will use a co-design process to explore how the community of Ballina can reimagine and transform their local green space through the use of water as a resource and as a means to improve climate resilience.

13.   Led by scientist Niamh Shaw and Dublin City Council in consultation with the community of Crumlin, Creative Climate Action Crumlin will activate a series of climate projects to raise awareness, enhance the natural world and change lifestyles.

14.   Decarbonising Together will see five Limerick community groups identify an aspect of decarbonisation that matters to them and then work with a creative partner to explore and enable behavioural change in their daily lives.

The REthink Energy series featuring Green Scene is supported by ESB and The Institute of International and European Affairs.



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