Galway Bay

Sunset over Galway Bay
Photo: Chris Dainty

The Galway Bay complex has a large, diverse range of marine and coastal habitats, including a number of small islands that were formed as a result of glacial deposits at the end of the last Ice-Age. Many of the habitats supported in Galway Bay are listed on the EU Habitats Directive, and the whole Galway Bay Complex has been protected as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

Sandy beaches, sand dunes and rocky terraces along the coast support a variety of flora and fauna. Small crustaceans and bivalves inhabit the lower shoreline, where sponges, red and brown seaweeds as well as the rare sea urchin species Paracentrotus lividus (dark purple colour) can also be found.

Of particular note in the Galway Bay Complex is Ireland ’s only reported paddock bed, which flourishes in Aughinish Bay , and an oyster bed in Kinvara Bay .

Further habitats thriving in bay include an array of salt marshes such as Atlantic, Mediterranean, and one Lagoon salt marsh which are the rarest type in Ireland . Thrift, sea lavender, Saltmarsh Grass, Sea lavender and Sea Purslane are just some of the vegetation flourishing in these marshes.

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