Site details

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Flag of Ireland
5 stars - Fully protected as a national park or Natura 2000 site by national legislation
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The west side of the Great Saltee. Photo: Damian Allen

Synoptic description of site:

Offshore islands exposed to strong tidal streams and wave action

Extensive description of site:

The Saltee Islands and their environs (Great Saltee, Little Saltee and many small islets and rocks) lie approximately 5 km south of the Co. Wexford coastline in south east Ireland. Great Saltee is approximately 89 ha and Little Saltee 40 ha. The area is subject to high tidal streams and wave action.

Habitats present:
Littoral XX
Seagrass bedsX

Description of fauna and flora:

The fauna and flora are well documented from surveys carried out during the BIOMAR project and current mapping surveys to develop management plans for the marine SAC. Particular habitats and species in area have been the subject of past and present studies associated with fisheries interests. There are a number of species present that are either rare in Ireland or that have a very limited distribution in Ireland and in Britain.

Human impact:

The area is subjected to low levels of human activity. The islands are uninhabited although temporarily populated with bird researchers during periods of the year. Fisheries activities around the islands would be restricted to potting for crab and lobster although the port of Kilmore Quay provides for larger offshore fishing vessels.


Facilities for biodiversity research are not available on site however the area is within easy access to most of the major universities in Ireland (less than 3 hours drive from Dublin).

Available database and website:

The results of the BIOMAR survey are available on CD;


Commitment and ongoing research:

There is some ongoing marine biodiversity research around the Saltee Island linked with the development of management plans for the SAC and aquaculture development. There is a requirement by the National Parks and Wildlife Service to undertake some biodiversity monitoring as part of the SAC designation.

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.