The National Biodiversity Data Centre and The Heritage Council launched Ireland’s first Wildlife Weekend recently. The weekend will take place from June 9 to 12 this year, showcasing the unique wildlife and heritage of five of the country’s offshore islands including Mayo's own Clare Island. Supported by the Heritage Council and organised by the National Biodiversity Data Centre, the weekend aims to introduce people to the special world of wildlife in five unique settings: Cape Clear, Inis Mór, Clare Island, Tory Island, and Bere Island.
The weekend will feature a rich and diverse programme of family-friendly events on the five islands, which includes whale and dolphin trips, foraging along the seashore, walks exploring the coastal flora and insect life, nocturnal bat walks and star gazing, and many more events showcasing some of the best of the island’s natural heritage.
The weekend will culminate in Island BioBlitz, a unique race against time to see which of Ireland’s five offshore islands can record the most wildlife species over a 24-hour period. From 12 noon on June 11 to 12 noon on June 12, experts and members of the public on the five islands will compete against each other to see which island has the greatest diversity of wildlife and where the most wildlife species can be found. This will require a huge effort, with the winning island probably having to record more than 1,000 species.
Heritage Council CEO, Michael Starrett, at the launch said: “Ireland’s natural heritage is a vital national asset that brings great joy to adult and child alike as well as supporting our lives though the many services they provide. Wildlife Weekend aims to encourage people to have a direct experience of our unique wildlife by inviting everyone to join in the week-long festivities on some of our most special offshore islands.”
Liam Lysaght, director of the National Biodiversity Data Centre, said: “Island BioBlitz is a fun event where experts and members of the public join forces to explore the rich diversity of life found on our off-shore islands. It is a race against time to see which island can record the most species of wildlife over a 24 hour period, but it is also a celebration of the unique heritage and character of Ireland’s off-shore islands.”