The Wild Atlantic Ocean holds secrets, deep ocean caves and an incredible array sea life that live happily in the wild Irish water. Ireland’s coast is one of the most unique coasts of any county with its rugged, wild and untamed seas. It’s a like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. Altogether the spectacular coast line is estimated to be 6,347km. This unique coast line and surrounding ocean houses thousands of incredible sea creatures including: fish, shellfish, dolphins, whales, flora and many more secrets. So what lies beneath the crashing waves, the surging tides, and the flowing currents of the Atlantic Ocean?
Fish in there millions roam the Atlantic Ocean making themselves at home. The ocean surrounding the cliffs is rich in fish life and fishing activities The Atlantic Mackerel is one of the most popular fish in the ocean around these deep waters. Mackerel can be caught year round and is a delicious fresh dish. Mackerel has a rich, pronounced flavour and is an oily fish which is high in omega-3 fatty acids and is an excellent source of selenium, niacin, and vitamins B6 and B12. Black sea bass is harder to catch and can be found deeper undersea. They come here in search of food on their journey through the ocean. These fish can be harder to catch and are more expensive in restaurants and are considered a luxurious fish with a soft delicate flavour. Plaice/ flounder/Flat fish can be found growing in the shallows of the coast but as they grow they venture deeper into the ocean. They are easily caught and a popular dish. They have a sweet and mild flavour, best drizzled with some garlic butter. There are more than 80 species of fish in our cold Irish waters. Fish play a far more important role as contributors of nutrients to marine ecosystem then you think. They constantly clean the ocean and protect important ecosystems within the ocean.
Sharks, Don’t be alarmed! These sharks are not the kind that do harm. They are the gentle giants of the sea and are big enough to be seen from the top of the cliffs. The ocean surrounding the Cliffs of Moher is home to two types of sharks from season to season. The basking shark is the second biggest shark in the world and they are found throughout Irish seas during the summer months. They can measure up to 11m in length. They are usually seen alone cruising slowly at the surface, with dorsal fin above the water and their mouth opened as it filters the coastal waters for food. These sharks live on tiny plankton. Blue sharks are also common in Irish waters. They visit mainly during the months of June to October. Irish Blue Sharks migrate from Ireland to West Africa across the Atlantic Ocean then up along the American coast to Canada and then back to Ireland. They are top predators feeding on squid, mackerel and herring. If you’re lucky you could spot something lurking above the waves!
Seals are very common in all parts of Ireland and can usually be seen basking on the rocks around the cliffs or having a feed under the waves. There are two types of seals the common seal and the Atlantic grey seal. The common seal eats a wide variety of inshore and estuarine fish species. Irish seals are essentially salt-water animals but the Common seal may be seen occasionally in brackish water or sometimes even on larger rivers, miles from the sea. They are light grey in colour with some irregular spotting. They can be seen all year around. The grey seal is a darker grey and they usually frequent rockier places. A wide variety of marine food is eaten, ranging from crustaceans like crab and lobster to shellfish and squid, salmon and other fish. It’s a joy to see a seal, they can be very friendly when fish is involved and have the sweetest faces!
Dolphins: In the summer and autumn dolphins of a number of different species may be found off the south and west coasts in particular. They are feeding schools which follow the shoals of fish, crustacea and other marine animals brought inshore by the Gulf Stream. Their presence is usually detected by the synchronised roll of their shiny backs as they break the surface of the sea to expel and inhale air. There is the common which is the most plentiful in Irish waters they are generally steel-grey on the upper body and white underneath and can be found in schools of up to a hundred or more. The bottlenose dolphin is the next dolphin that can be seen in Irish waves. These dolphins travel in fewer schools and are much bigger than the common dolphin. They are generally greyish-brown with white throat and bellies. The name ‘bottle-nosed’ is derived from the strange snout or beak which is longer and more pronounced than that of the more common animal. You’ll be lucky to see a pack of dolphins splashing in and out of the blue waters.
Whales are a site to behold. It’s an amazing experience seeing such a large a gentle creature swashing in and out of the surface. Whales travel far and wide and travel to deep parts of the ocean or they can stay floating near the sunny surface. The Minke whale is our most commonly observed whale. It is a relatively small baleen whale. They are usually seen in the water between March and November. They are mostly grey/black but have a distinctive white patch(s) on its pectoral fins make it unmistakable for any other whale. The second most common whale seen around our coasts are the breath-taking hump-back whales. They are known for their haunting and melodic songs and for breaching the water with amazing acrobatic abilities. Humpbacks are black on the upper side and mottled black and white on the underside. Humpbacks can grow to 60 feet long, and they can weigh a whopping 40 tons. They are breath-taking to see and they will surely make many memories in your mind.
Shellfish, There is no shortage of shell fish off the coast of the Cliffs of Moher. Depending on the depth of water, you will find a vast array of delicious fresh shellfish on the Atlantic coast. Crayfish can be found in the moderately shallow ocean. The crayfish is similar in appearance to lobsters but with smaller claws and larger antennae. Crayfish are generally found in rock substrate where they feed on shellfish, sea urchins and crabs. Irish langoustines are part of a family of large marine crustaceans called Nephropidaeare. A number of coastal vessels use pots to catch live langoustine, mainly for the restaurant trade. They are found on the deep seafloor and are widely fished for among many fishermen.
Many types of underwater seaweed and algae live under the cliffs as well. As you look down upon the shore you can see the long strands of brown seaweed lining the rocky coast, these are the most common types of seaweed called dulse and kelp. These sea plants help to purify and keep the ocean looking clean and beautiful for us all to enjoy. If you’d like to experience and learn more about some of these incredible creatures for yourself, the Cliffs of Moher or the Premium Cliffs of Moher day tour is perfect for you. Feel the sea breeze on your face, listen to the soft crashing wild waves and experience these iconic and imposing natural formations surrounded by the dramatic lush landscape that Ireland is known for. The Irish Sea life is abundant here and is well worth getting more involved in. Join the adventure with Irish day tours!