Where Irish land meets the roaring sea, ceaseless tides come one after the other. Autumn here isn’t just about trees shedding their leaves. It’s a time when coastal ecosystems kick into gear, and life by the ocean takes on a rhythm of its own. There’s always a hint of that ‘crabs in a bucket’ mentality at play. You see, just like those crabs all trying to pull each other back into the bucket, coastal biodiversity faces its own set of challenges as it embraces the colours and transitions of autumn.
I first heard about the expression ‘crabs in a bucket’ in a Vince Staples track, and like a caramel stuck to the roof of your mouth, it clung to me.
A few weeks back, I was sifting through French channels back home and came across Thalassa, that gem of a show that entertained so many of us, every Friday night. Growing up in a home where the TV was under lock and key, only a scarce few shows managed to sneak through, and Thalassa was one of them. It wasn’t just a show; it was a magical portal to the salt-kissed Mediterranean, the craggy cliffs of Brittany, the secrets of the sea. Every week, I travelled into the quaint charm of coastal towns, the tales of fishermen and the mysteries that lurked beneath the waves.
I look at the tide clock as I write this, the sounds of waves and wind teeming along the Irish shores.
Ireland, with its substantial shoreline, hosts a significant portion of its biodiversity in the marine world. With autumn, the mackerel-blue sea gets restless, and the changing weather and temperatures all throw a spanner in the works for marine life. Storms roll in, disrupting the calm. As humans roam about, enjoying the last bits of beach weather, more footprints on the sand mean more mess for coastal life.
Among the windswept hillside of Little Killary, Connemara, Green Sod Ireland was granted 14 acres of land at Salrock – a gift from Ms. Eileen Coyne. Nestled beneath the watchful eye of Mweelrea, this space, farmed by her grandfather, is full of native woodlands, wet heath, and rocky outcrops. It’s a treasure trove of biodiversity, with various plant and animal species like the yellow orchid and the large marsh grasshopper. Eileen Coyne’s generous foresight is an inspiration for us to support and grow this diverse ecosystem, an integral part of Connemara’s Wild Acres.
Up in the northern parts, this spot has a cosy rocky shore meeting the Atlantic at Little Killary, and to the south and west, you’ve got mountains and peatlands in commonage. A couple of those cheeky crabs were seen hanging around too.
The Government is aiming to increase protection of Irish waters. They’re gunning for 30 per cent of the shoreline to have a protected area status by 2030—quite a leap from the measly 2 per cent currently in the safety net. These Marine Protected Areas act like oceanic National Parks, legally shielding our seas and coasts from anything that could harm the wildlife there. It’s all part of the global squad effort to give our oceans a good health kick and keep things thriving.
Scientists, the public, everyone’s nodding in agreement : merely holding onto what’s left of nature isn’t enough. It’s not just about keeping it safe; it’s about reviving, and being there to help the vulnerable coastal spots and endangered species hang on tight in our waters for the generations coming after us. Being mindful of waste disposal, cutting down on the plastic madness, and getting into eco-friendly habits isn’t just about the coast looking nice – it’s about respecting nature, preserving biodiversity. Responsible fishing practices and the protection of coastal ecosystems through community engagement should be woven into the very fabric of the school curriculum, ingrained in how we teach and guide our children.
It’s a bit like those crabs in a bucket – if we all chip in and make sure the young ones get the lowdown early on, we could all scuttle our way out of the bucket, securing a future where coastal biodiversity stands a chance.
Here at Green Sod Ireland, we value the power of knowledge and deliver ecological education programmes across Ireland. You can find out more here.
If you’re looking to do your part for the land, which is our prime focus at Green Sod Ireland, don’t forget the sea; supporting coastal biodiversity involves tending to both earth and ocean.
Marine Protected Areas. (2023). Irish Wildlife Trust. https://iwt.ie/what-we-do/campaigns/marine-protected-areas/
Griffin, D. (2022). The battle to save Ireland’s biodiversity will take place at sea. The Irish Times. https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/2022/10/20/the-battle-to-save-irelands-biodiversity-will-take-place-at-sea/
Photos by Rory MacCanna: https://www.flickr.com/people/maccannarory/