Salthill beaches have been awash with dead jellyfish for the past few weeks – but experts warn that despite being dead, they can still sting.
It may have been an unusual scene for the general public but experts in the marine biology department in NUI Galway weren’t a bit surprised as this is the mating season of that particular species of jellyfish.
Dr Tom Doyle, a marine biologist and an expert in gelatinous zoo plankton (jellyfish) ecology, said however that it was a growing cause of concern to see so many of them washed ashore.
In recent years, swarms of the species known as pelagia or commonly the mauve stinger, have been observed off Irish coasts at this time of year. And though some of them would inevitably end up on the beach, Dr Doyle did concede the number of them on Salthill beaches last week was high.
He said that once the jellyfish were washed ashore and stranded on the beach, their demise was inevitable as they get their oxygen from the water.
Dr Doyle, who is based in the Martin Ryan Institute in NUIG, said there was a Facebook page devoted to the creatures called the Big Jellyfish Hunt which monitored their movements year round.
“It’s not unusual to see swarms or brooms of them in the sea at this time of year as it is their mating season. The females release their eggs and the males are queuing up behind them which explains why so many of them are spotted in the one place.
“This particular one is an oceanic jellyfish and it survives most of the year on the ocean bed but surfaces during the mating season. Our Celtic Voyager vessel observed a line of them floating on the waters in Galway Bay which was one kilometre long, five to ten metres wide and probably five metres deep.
“That is their behaviour at this time of year but the South Westerly winds and the sea currents probably drove them in towards the beach where they were stranded,” he explained.
He said that it was always a concern to see so many of them dying in that manner but that marine records showed reports of similar swarms of them in Irish waters 100 years ago.
Dr Doyle stressed that though the jellyfish were dead, they could still sting and he warned people not to pick them up. He further warned daily swimmers to be aware of them in the water so close to the shore, as they were stingers.
They vary in size. Some are as big as a closed fist while others are quite tiny, only millimetres in width.
Gardaí bid to identify body recovered near Mutton Island
Gardai have launched an investigation following the discovery of a body in Galway Bay yesterday afternoon.
A member of the public raised the alarm after spotting the body in the water while walking on the causeway to Mutton Island.
Galway Fire Service, Gardai and the RNLI attended the scene and recovered the body at around 4pm, before it was taken to University Hospital Galway for a post mortem.
It is understood that the body may have been in the water for some time.
Gardaí are currently examining a list of missing people in the city.
Gardaí investigate fatal Carraroe crash
A man in his 30s has died following a road crash in Carraroe in the early hours of this morning.
At 3.50am, Gardaí and emergency services attended at a single car collision on a minor road.
The driver of the car, a man in his 30s, was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later. A passenger in the car, a male in his 30s, was taken by ambulance to Galway University Hospital. His injuries are not thought to be life threatening.
The road is currently closed and local diversions are in place. Garda forensic collision investigators will examine the crash site this morning.
Land Development Agency rules out Merlin ‘land grab’
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Campaigners have warned the Land Development Agency (LDA) to keep its hands off Merlin Woods.
Local community group Friends of Merlin Woods said that the amenity on the east side of the city is not suitable for residential development.
It has sought clarification on whether the LDA has earmarked part of the recreational and amenity lands for housing, after it appeared on its online database of publicly-owned lands.
In a statement to the Galway City Tribune, the LDA said its database compiles a list of all State lands, not just land for development.
In relation to Merlin Woods, the LDA said: “Those lands aren’t included in the LDA developments in Galway. The lands database is a map-based tool which compiles all State lands and has no reflection on development potential.”
It came after Caroline Stanley of Friends of Merlin Woods raised concern that land within Merlin Woods had been earmarked for development.
“I’d be concerned that it’s marked as residential when it’s in RA (Recreational and Amenity) land. Some is marked ‘open space’ but some is marked as ‘new proposed residential’ on its [LDA’s] database. It makes us wonder why. We’d like clarity and to clear it up.
“The message we’d like to get out there is we need clarification, whether it’s a mistake on the Land Development Agency’s part, or whether it is an area that they consider as a residential area, which the community would be opposed to. We need clarity. It could be something that is in line for development later on, we don’t know, and we need clarity.”
Councillor Owen Hanley explained that the fears around Merlin Woods stem from legislation currently making its way through the Oireachtas that would strip councillors of powers to veto the transfer of land to the LDA for housing projects.
The Bill would also allow Government to direct what public lands – including those owned by local authorities – can be transferred to the LDA for development of social and affordable housing.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.