Our seas are resilient, we have seen on social media how wildlife has flourished when we slow down, like the wildflowers blooming at the Giant’s Causeway. When we return to a ‘new normal’ we need to remember this and move forward in how we treat and respect our environment and the species that live here.
One of the best things about living in Northern Ireland is that you are never too far away from the seaside, and in my opinion, the Causeway coast is one of the most beautiful and diverse! It is not just my opinion either- the causeway coastal route is listed as one of the best drives in the world by Lonely planet! Sometimes we don’t always realise how stunning Northern Ireland is (the grass is always greener and all that), from the dramatic outline of fair head, to the carrick-a-rede rope bridge and the Giant’s Causeway or the shores of Dorne to the Kingsroad (if you are a Game of Throne’s fan!). Let me point out that as a UNESCO world heritage site, the Giant’s Causeway is on the same level as Yellowstone National Park and the Galapagos Islands!
Another reason why I love this coast is the diversity and abundance of marine megafauna! This week (25th May 2020), we were supposed to be out on the Celtic Mist surveying the North Coast for bottlenose dolphins! The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group alongside the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) have shown that this area of coast (from the Giant’s Causeway to Malin Head) is a potential hotspot for bottlenose dolphins in our waters! We have created a photo-identification catalogue of bottlenose dolphins (using unique markings on their dorsal fins) and it contains 54 well marked individual dolphins (there are more but their fins are too perfect to be able re-identify!). The North coast is a great place to try and spot some dolphins and porpoises as well as minke whales, basking sharks, if you are very lucky, humpback whales and even the odd sunfish! You never know what will show up- some of you might remember when a beluga whale appeared in 2015!
I have many happy childhood memories of spending holidays in my grandparents caravan on the causeway coast where days were spent bodyboarding at the beach or walking along the cliff paths at the Giant’s Causeway and of course finished off with a trip to Barry’s! I still love going up to the coast and I can’t wait until we are allowed to travel again to visit. I remember last May day I was on Portstewart Strand and I was genuinely shocked at how much rubbish was blowing around – which ended in an impromptu beach clean! I urge people to look after our amazing coastline and our seas so future generations can enjoy it’s beauty and biodiversity like we do. Our seas are resilient, we have seen on social media how wildlife has flourished when we slow down, like the wildflowers blooming at the Giant’s Causeway. When we return to a ‘new normal’ we need to remember this and move forward in how we treat and respect our environment and the species that live here.
Catherine Hinds – Northern Ireland Officer – Irish Whale and Dolphin Group