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Mayo has one of the longest coastlines in the country. The variety of habitats along the coast support a wealth of wildlife.
Marine mammals such as seals, dolphins and whales all frequent the coastline. Good places to see these mammals include Downpatrick Head and Achill Island and the Moy Estuary. In some areas boat tours specializing in seeing sea mammals can be booked.
Rocky shores such as those found at Lacken Pier and part of Beltra strand near Westport are great for exploring rock pools. At low tide these little pools can support mini-aquariums of life including sea anemones, hermit crabs, shrimp and fish known as blennies. As rocky shores support a wealth of marine invertebrates they are also important for birds such as oystercatchers and turnstones.
Sea cliffs support nesting sea birds such as fulmars, guillemots, kittiwake and puffins. Some of the cliffs also have interesting cliff flora. Cliffs on Clare Island support alpine and rare species such as moss campion, purple saxifrage, Irish saxifrage and St. Patrick’s cabbage.
Sandy shores for example, Ross Strand and Mulranny, are great places for beach combing. Some of the sandy shores are backed by sand dunes. These dunes are often composed of a mosaics of habitats including fore-dunes, fixed dunes, dune slacks, dune heath and scrub and machair. Interesting flora include wild thyme, lady’s bedstraw and pyramidal orchids.
Author & Photography
By Karina Dingerkus