As an island nation, Ireland’s connection to the sea is evident in much of our cultural icons and identity.
To give some examples the 10p coin with the salmon (designed by Percy Metcalfe in 1928) was all over our currency and even our city logo showcases our fishing vessels, like the Galway Hooker.
So even though fishing and connection to the sea are evident in our culture, we still know very little of the diversity of life in the sea. While our sea stories and local fishing catches tell part of the story, there is still a knowledge gap in the awareness, diversity, and understanding of the species that live in our rivers, lakes, and ocean. Not many people know that Aquariums play a wider role in conservation and education about our ocean.
I remember Ken O'Sullivan (Filmaker) saying, "Years ago we knew about fish under the water but could not really see what was below 6 foot, now with modern cameras we are learning even more about the wide diversity of life in the deepest parts of the sea".
Protection and Conservation
Aquariums play a huge role in many parts of society, from providing ocean literacy experiences, education & awareness, conservation campaigns (both local, national and international), many offer free educational resources, and work in schools. Many Aquariums are also part of huge networks sharing information on animal welfare and acting on endangered species with breeding programs and policy change. For general visitors, many people love the passion and engagement from the Aquarists, who are only too happy to tell you about the beauty of life underwater.
Aquariums In Ireland
If you are looking to visit some of the Aquariums in Ireland, here are some places you might like to sea.
Here are some of the testimonials from visitors of these Aquariums, enjoy.
Galway Atlantaquaria – our very own Native Species Aquarium located on the Salthill Promenade. Focus on native marine and freshwater species of fish and invertebrates, with a strong emphasis on Ocean Literacy, Community Engagement and Education on a local national and international level.
Such a great day out! I really enjoyed seeing all the different types of fish. Would recommend coming here, especially with kids.
The Achill Experience
I visited a few years ago and I must say I loved the experience, the team at Achill Experience have done a great job in interpretation.
Achill Experience – located in Achill in Co. Mayo, Achill, Achill Experience encompasses a visitor centre and aquarium. Home to both native and tropical species the aquarium also tells the story of the history of Shark fishing in the Achill in the 1950’s.
Our Tour Guide Was So Passionate About His Job The Way He Was Talking About Animals Was Honestly So Nice, He Answered Any And All Questions We Had and it really was just an amazing experience, if you're down this way for the day or you're even local We highly recommend checking this place out
Exploris Aquarium – located in Portaferry, in Co. Down, Exploris is home to a mixture of native and tropical fish species, along with a Reptile visitor centre and Seal Sanctuary. Visit the sunken galleon, meet friendly sharks and a snappy crocodile in Northern Ireland’s only Aquarium and Seal Sanctuary.
Brilliant family day out. Lots to see and do for kids of all ages. Really clean and well organised. Plenty of parking spaces. Friendly and helpful staff.
SEALIFE - Bray
Sealife Bray – part of the SEALIFE Trust, Sealife Bray is located on the Bray Promenade in Bray in Co. Wicklow. Home to put tropical and native marine and freshwater species, the aquarium showcases species from all over the world.
Sea Life Bray Aquarium has such a lovely variety of sea life and atmosphere! The tanks and quality of life that they provide for the animals is top class. There are so many exhibits, suitable for all ages. The staff was phenomenal when I went! They went the extra mile to provide information about the life that's there. They have a lovely gift shop as well. Definitely recommend.
Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium
Oceanworld Dingle – located on the Dingle Peninsula in Co. Kerry, this is Ireland’s largest aquarium, home to Tropical Sharks, Gentoo Penguins, Asian Short-clawed Otters, and an abundance of fish species. Dedicated to promoting and inspiring eco-awareness and stewardship through education, research, and conservation.
A brilliant place to visit with the family. The kids will absolutely love it. The sharks and crocodiles were a firm favourite. The gift shop was a massive hit, combine this with the very friendly staff and you'll have yourselves a brilliant day out. Highly recommended
The Great Blue Ocean - So why not get out there and visit your local aquarium or put it on your ‘To Do List’ for 2022.
We hope you enjoyed the ocean journey and making plans to visit the Aquariums in Ireland. International visitors know lots about the green beauty of Ireland, and we hope this showed there are some beautiful blues just beneath the waves of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a great blue ocean, and the Aquariums offer a unique window into this mysterious world.
While all Aquariums in Ireland showcase the diversity of life in Ireland, they work very hard to ensure the animals are well cared for and this is considered in the admission fee too.
Aquariums have a ‘different’ feel and ethos, so make sure you try to visit all to get the very best interpretation of the wonderful world of water. You can tell by the reviews; people love the species and the presentation of ocean facts.
Our own Aquarium is loved for having over 90% of our Aquarium dedicated to our native species and cultural heritage ethos, we have the only museum quality Log Boat in Ireland, Galway Hooker Boat and largest Fin Whale Skeleton in Ireland too, so very special.
I think if you enjoy the Aquariums and learn about the beauty of life underwater, you might take home a message of conservation and care. And if that’s the message then wasn’t that worth it?
Galway Atlantaquaria, Celebrating EMD In My Country
EMD In My Country 2022 -- 630 events and 200,000 participants across the EU!
Hello Ocean Lovers & Champions
We are really excited to support European Maritime Day with a series of events on the shore. We are exploring the beauty and diversity of Grattan Beach, Salthill with a number of beach safaris and walks in the rockpools. These events are designed to engage young people about the value of the ocean, including education about the value of the ocean literacy principles and ultimately inspire them to become ocean champions.
We believe this is the third year of the Aquariums involvement of EMD and while we know it is celebrated in May, we do not see why it cannot become part of an everyday plan to visit the beach and explore the shore. Our hope is that we can show the value of exploring the beach, so it becomes a hobby that everyone can enjoy.
We often include a beach clean, so everyone can do something to help keep our beaches pristine. We believe that by showing the impacts on litter pollution on the species in the sea it may change how we dispose of litter for the good of us all.
We are looking forward to seeing you on the shore.
Why we do what we do
EMD (European Maritime Day) In My Country is a key part of the wave of ocean awareness and activism that has been rising steadily in recent years: the events under its brand have become more and more popular, attracting more thousands of participants every year. Local activities such as beach clean ups, guided tours of ports, art exhibitions, workshops, conferences, seminars, exhibitions on maritime themes, ocean literacy actions, eco-tours and walks in areas with significant maritime heritage, boat excursions, visits to maritime museums, ships, aquaria, shipyards etc. aim to a wide audience across Europe, with a "fun and game" component directly appealing to a younger public.
EMD In My Country 2022 boosts 630 events and 200,000 participants across the EU!
This groundswell of ocean activism, increasing citizens awareness towards healthy and prosperous seas and oceans every year of EMD.
2022 is the European Year of Youth, so plenty of events this year have a focus on youth activities.
BOOK AN EMD EVENT WITH GALWAY ATLANTAQUARIA
Staycation, Ireland is waiting for you
Rediscover the beauty of Salthill, and discover a number of beautiful sights along the way.
Why Visit Salthill?
There are a number of key reasons to visit Salthill:
1. Coastal Views (morning, noon and evening) immortalized by Artur Conan Doyle
If you ever go across the sea to Ireland
Then maybe at the closing of your day
You can sit and watch the moon rise over Claddagh
And see the sun go down on Galway Bay
Arthur Colahan, ‘Galway Bay’
2. The famous 'prom' walk is lined with people to say hello to, and you never know who you might meet along the way. Great for your health and well being!
3. Cultural and heritage sites including The famine memorial, Anchor, Metamorhic rocks, WAW Wild Atlantic Way discovery points, memorial garden, 'kick the wall' and the Diving Tower.
4. We have some amazing amenities and places to treat the taste buds, these business have had some very difficult times and your visit can do so much for the local economy
5.Salthill has a very unique sense of place and we believe our coastal village, warm welcome and memorable experiences can restore the balance of peace, come visit and keep discovering.
6. And Finally, we're here! So if you visit Salthill, you can pop in and say hello to all the creatures at Galway Atlantaquaria! We hope to see you soon.
The aquarium is excited to introduce two new wonderful artists for the May exhibition.
Trying to encompass many different media in our art displays, we are proud to display the beautiful ceramics of Rebecca Philbin. Rebecca is an Irish sculptural ceramicist from Co.Galway, with a B.A. Hons Degree in Fine Art. She is interested in natural order and the fragile balance of nature.
“I draw inspiration from the fact that it is innately human to question our existence and explore our environment, looking for existential truths in the natural shapes and patterns that surround us”, she says.
Everything that exists has its place from the macroscopic to the microscopic in an ancient harmony. Rebecca is especially interested in objects and patterns not usually seen by the naked eye and likes to bring those images to the forefront in her work. Her works draw attention to the small essence of life. Her focus lies on the patterns undiscernible to the naked eye, yet essential to life on earth: cells, microbes and diatoms. Without the smaller, the larger cannot exist. Rebecca’s focus is on showing the connection of all things.
Rebecca can be found on Instagram @rebeccasphotosartandceramics
Carmel Madigan is one of the two artists. She has been a professional Clare based artist for over twenty years. She grew up on the Loophead Peninsula, just a field away from the iconic and well known Bridges of Ross on the Wild Atlantic Way. She has painted ocean topics since the beginning of her artistic career, and her work straddles mixed media on both paper and canvas. Her work is an expression of her experiences around nature, and she has written two natural history books on the seashore and wild flora. She has exhibited in New York, Barcelona and Florence. Her work has dispersed around the world to the USA, Canada, Germany, UK, Spain, Switzerland as well as the island of Ireland.
Her work is held in many public collections including the Office of Public Works, Departments of Education and Defence, Bank of Ireland, Waterford Municipal Art Collection, Dromoland Castle Hotel & Spa Collection and many more. You can read the full artist biography at www.carmeltmadigan.com
I'm going to be honest with you: I never had much interest in the marine world. I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, probably the most landlocked city in the United States. I never even saw the ocean until I was nearly 15 and was always way more engaged in the medical side of science. I suppose this was because I thought medicine was more relevant to me, and by learning about this area of science, I was learning about myself.
The same can be said about my interest in protecting the environment (please don't hate me!) I felt that climate change was so big of a problem that I'd never make much difference in contributing to a solution. The issue is so overwhelming that I put up a mental block against it like I was putting my fingers into my ears and saying, "I don't want to know!"
My interest in medical science led me to my current job at CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Medical Devices, based at the National University of Ireland Galway. Scientists at CÚRAM are developing medical solutions for people to live more comfortably. Many people live much longer than they used to, which means they must live with chronic health conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. The medical devices developed at CÚRAM are made from biomaterials. These biomaterials can be made from synthetic materials, such as plastics or metals, or natural materials from nature.
Natural biomaterials from the marine world are currently being studied for various medical applications. To showcase how we can learn from the amazing capabilities of ocean creatures to create medical solutions, CÚRAM partnered with Galway Atlantaquaria to develop a new exhibit, "Marine Meets MedTech". My lack of interest in the ocean and climate change was entirely transformed by making this exhibit with Galway Atlantaquaria.
Galway Atlantaquaria are incredible at educating people (including myself!) about the ocean. They find creative ways to link with educational activities and community events. For example, they have designed special "Maths Week" tours for primary students. Maths and the ocean can be connected? Of course they can, and Galway Atlantaquaria can show you how! Another example is the monthly beach clean-ups, which allow people to meet others and learn more about the environment as they help their community by cleaning up the shore.
While developing the exhibit with Galway Atlantaquaria and marine scientists, I came to realise that marine organisms have superpowers that do not exist in land-dwelling creatures. Marine organisms live in extreme environmental conditions that do not exist on land. Depending upon what ocean zone they live, organisms can encounter unique conditions such as high pressures, cold temperatures, low light exposures, high salt concentrations, and low oxygen levels. In response to these living conditions, they must evolve special structural, physiological, and behavioural adaptations. These adaptations have led to the evolution of diverse natural compounds with beneficial chemical and physical properties. Sam Afoullouss, an SFI-funded PhD student at the National University of Galway Ireland studying deep-sea natural product chemistry, explains this superpower evolution perfectly with his prize-winning Threesis presentation, "Ireland's Deep Sea Pharmacy".
Sam also strongly influenced my change of heart towards the ocean. I highly recommend that you listen to Sam speak about the sea. He is very inspiring and paints a vivid image of the underwater world we are just beginning to discover. He has a TedxGalway talk, "The Deep Sea's Medicinal Secrets", that has received over 146,000 views.
Sam is also a deep-sea photographer and has captured incredible images of his ocean dives. It's hard to believe that the videos were filmed off the coast of Ireland and not some exotic location in the Caribbean. One video, "Connemara's Coastline", features a steely-eyed Cat Shark staring down the camera through some kelp. There is also a cheeky Spiny Spider Crab who looks as if he is trying to snatch the camera away from Sam's hands. One creature, a Violet Sea Slug, looks more like a flower that should be growing in your garden and not some animal living off the Connemara coast. Sam also captures Jewel Anemones under ultra-violet light, allowing paisley patterns of yellow, blue and orange to appear.
After a year of development, we launched our interactive exhibit at Galway Atlantaquaria, highlighting the importance of protecting the diversity of marine organisms and how they can provide cures with their unique properties. The sponge display shows where different species live around Irish coasts and how scientists are testing if the chemicals found in sponge slime can fight cancer and harmful microbes. The barnacles' area explains how new medical adhesives can be created by copying how these marine organisms glue themselves to things. The exhibit also shows how alginate from seaweed and chitosan from crustacean shells can be transformed into easily injectable 'hydrogels' that heal wounds and deliver medicine. Eye-captivating diatoms are showcased for their beauty and how their porous architecture allows for the controlled release of drugs more slowly over a longer time inside the body. Images of coccolithophore blooms are displayed, and their importance as "carbon fixers" is discussed with their potential for use in drug delivery.
Isn't it incredible that slimy sponges and jewel-like algae are helping scientists develop new ways to heal our bodies? If we lose the biodiversity of our oceans, we also lose potential ways to help fight diseases. Keeping our oceans healthy helps us discover new ways of developing medical device technology, which, in turn, keeps us healthy. Thanks to the influence of Galway Atlantaquaria and inspiring marine scientists, I now want to make an effort to protect these tiny sea creatures who can potentially offer such big cures!
SEA SCIENCE & MARINE STEM-Clean Coasts Beach Clean
Our goal is to share the diversity of stories that reflect the beauty of the sea, we are doing this by sharing images, stories, art, reviews & interpretation of the beautiful blue ocean we are only discovering.
This blog is to record the adventures , ocean literacy, discoveries , and showcase the hidden beauty of the Wild Atlantic Way.