Site details

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5 stars - Fully protected as a national park or Natura 2000 site by national legislation
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Dublin Bay looking across the lighthouse on Howth Head Photo:

Synoptic description of site:

Open sandy bay centred on the Liffey estuary. Extensive sand, gravel and mudflats.

Extensive description of site:

Dublin Bay is a large shallow bay on the east coast of Ireland. It is backed by Dublin city and split by the River Liffey. On the north shore is Bull Island which was formed during the construction of the docklands and now supports the most designated nature conservation site in Ireland.

Habitats present:
Seagrass bedsX

Description of fauna and flora:

The bay is predominantly sand with offshore banks of coarser material occurring to the east. Behind Bull Island occurs extensive mud and sandflats. A small Zostera bed occurs on the south shore.

Human impact:

The area is subjected to moderate levels of pollution (primarily nutrients) from the city of Dublin and the dockyards. The bay is quite heavily fished. The coastal waters are relatively turbid due to outflows from muddy estuaries and the sedimentary nature of the seabed.


Facilities for marine biodiversity research are available from several Universities and consulting companies in Dublin.

Available database and website:

Dublin Bay has been the subject of extensive work due to the sludge dumping that occurred offshore and more recent developments. The close proximity to the big Dublin colleges has resulted in small research projects being completed. Good baseline data is available for the intertidal habitats and biotopes. Intertidal biotope information is available from

Dataset covering this area:


Commitment and ongoing research:

There is ongoing marine biodiversity research in Dublin Bay mostly due to developments within the area. There is a requirement by the National Parks and Wildlife Service to undertake some biodiversity monitoring as part of the SAC designation. Dr Jim Wilson of Trinity College, Dublin has been monitoring intertidal molluscs for 10 years.

Additional Information:

Picton, B. E. & Costello, M. J., Eds. 1999. BioMar biotope viewer: a guide to marine habitats, fauna and flora of Britain and Ireland. Trinity College, Dublin, Environmental Sciences Unit. Marine Institute 1999. Ireland's Marine and Coastal Areas and adjacent Seas: An Environmental Assessment. Dublin.