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Clare County Library


Habitats Introduction




Limestone Habitats

Woodland, Trees and Hedgerows

Gardens and Parks

Buildings and Stone Walls

Marine and Coastal Habitats

Due to the extent of coastline in county Clare, the marine and coastal habitats are very important. The Atlantic Ocean off the west coast of Ireland is relatively clean compared to other oceans. This is illustrated by the amount of seaweed there. The Gulf Stream off the west coast of Ireland creates a warm, oceanic climate, which has a very significant influence on the species and habitats which occur in county Clare and increases the biodiversity. In 1991, all Irish waters were designated a Whale and Dolphin sanctuary, this was the first such designation in Europe.

The Shannon estuary is sheltered from the Atlantic and is the most significant site in Ireland for over wintering wildfowl and waders. It is very important for birds such as Lapwing, Snipe and Dunlin. The Shannon and Fergus estuaries are designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), a Special Protection Area (SPA) and a proposed Natural Heritage Area (NHA). The Shannon and Fergus estuaries form the largest estuary in Ireland containing a wide variety of habitats and important species.

The Cliffs of Moher contain one of the principal colonies of seabirds in Ireland including the largest mainland colony of Puffins. The area is designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA) and a Refuge for Fauna. Other cliffs in Clare are found west of Kilkee and at Loop head.

The Kilkee Reefs, which are designated as a Marine SAC, are an example of important rocky shore plant and animal communities which are only found on the western coast of Ireland.

The Carrowmore Dunes SAC includes several internationally valuable habitats such as fixed dunes, embryonic dunes and shifting dunes. Other sand dunes in Clare include Castlequarter, Fanore, Spanish Point and Seafield.

Cliffs of Moher

Some of the problems in marine and coastal habitats include reclamation and other damaging activities. The causes of these problems can originate from domestic sewage, agricultural run off, overfishing, pollution from industry, litter, disturbance and development such as golf courses and buildings on the coast. Also climate change is causing changes such as rising sea levels.

Marine and Coastal Habitats in the Clare 101 list

- Marine water body
- Estuary
- Intertidal/Shore
- Sea cliffs
- Sand dunes

Marine and Coastal Species from the Clare 101 List

- Bottle nose dolphin
- Harbour porpoise
- Common seal
- Arctic tern
- Puffin
- Barnacle geese
- Razorbill
- Oysters
- Starfish
- Caragheen
- Kelp