Geese and Swans
are at least 21 freshwater fish species found in the wild in County Clare.
It is estimated in excess of 85 fish species use the Shannon Estuary at
some stage of their life (either as a spawning, nursery or feeding ground
or as a migration route from freshwater to sea).
Smelt are one of the rarest fish in Ireland and Clare and are listed in
the Irish Red Data Book as vulnerable. The few locations where Smelt is
found in Ireland include the Shannon and Fergus estuaries. The Shannon
estuary is thought to be the most important site for Smelt in Ireland.
The numbers of Smelt throughout Ireland have declined due to pollution,
as they require clean water. It is estimated that in excess of 10,000
adult spawning smelt were killed in a major fish kill in Limerick in 2001
and its effect on recruitment was noted in 2003.
Habitat: Clean rivers and estuaries.
What could or does threaten the population: Pressures
include disturbance in the estuary (including dredging and dumping), agricultural
runoff, industrial pollution and exploitation of spawning adults as fish
bait. The Smelt are particularly vulnerable as they are short lived and
salmon Salmo solar
Salmon can be found in the river Shannon, the river Fergus, their
tributaries and West Clare rivers. Salmon have undergone a serious
decline, particularly in east and south Clare due to habitat degradation,
hydroelectric impoundment, water pollution and over fishing. However
in unspoilt areas in the west of the county, good populations
of Salmon still exist. Salmon numbers have declined throughout
Europe due to pollution.
Clean rivers and the sea.
What could or does threaten the population: Overfishing
and pollution from ineffective septic tanks, agricultural runoff,
forestry and industrial sources. Damage to habitats (by drainage,
land improvement, overgrazing, abstraction of peat, planting and
harvesting coniferous forestry) can lead to a loss of spawning
gravel beds, nursery areas and altered hydrology in rivers. There
are potential threats from introduced fish such as Roach and Dace.
Climate change and changes in the marine environment also pose
Eels are common in Clare, but they are considered threatened internationally.
They are found in nearly every lake and river with access to the sea throughout
the county. The largest Eel fishery in the Republic of Ireland is based
on Lough Derg . Eels breed in the Sargasso Sea which is in the middle
of the Atlantic Ocean, then their larvae drift across the Atlantic to
the coasts of Europe. Young eels swim into rivers in early summer and
make their way to ponds and lakes. They only spawn at the end of their
lives which, is usually between 6 and 15 years, though they can live as
long as 50 years. At maturity, in autumn, they swim downstream, make their
way back across the ocean to the Sargasso Sea, where they mate, lay a
million eggs or more - and die.
Habitat: Rivers, ponds, lakes and the sea.
What could or does threaten the population: Overfishing,
also it is thought that possibly global warming is effecting the breeding.
sucker Cyclopterus lumpus
The Lump sucker is an odd looking sea fish and comes in a range
of colours. Like the clown fish in the film “FINDING NEMO”
the males tend to their eggs. They can be found in the Shannon
Estuary in Clare. As the estuary is a transition zone between
the freshwater of the River Shannon and the salt water of the
Atlantic Ocean, representatives of freshwater, truly estuarine
and marine fish species occur along different stretches here.
Off shore in waters 50m to 300m deep, but migrates to shallow
waters to spawn. At this time they can be found between the tide
What could or does threaten the population: Habitat
changes in the estuary associated with development, such as dredging,
dumping, pollution, shipping and fossil fuel power stations during
important species in Clare include Brook, Sea and River Lamprey,
Sea trout and the Slob trout which is almost
unique to Clare. The Arctic char, which used to occur in five lakes in
Clare, is now believed to be extinct. Brown trout have suffered a decline
in some of Clare's most important trout lakes such as Inchiquin and Lickeen.
Char now believed to be extinct in Clare
species which are now extinct in Clare include Brown bears, gigantic
elephant-like Mammoths, Wolfs, Spotted hyena, Great spotted woodpecker,
Quail and the Golden eagle (reintroduced recently in Donegal).
Plants which became extinct in Clare recently include Arctic sandwort,
Cornflower and Corn cockle. Some species which have not been seen
for some years and may be extinct include the plant Gromwell,
the Narrow-leaved helleborine orchid and a bird, the Nightjar.
Species are not just becoming extinct in faraway continents, it
is happening right here in Clare too.