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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The entrance to Kilkieran Bay with numerous small islands and islets create a mosaic of marine habitats Photo:

Synoptic description of site:

Complex shallow fiardic bay with islands

Extensive description of site:

Kilkieran Bay in Co. Galway is a complex marine inlet subject to high wave exposure towards the entrance, and with extremely sheltered areas at the head of the bay. The bay has many islands and islets resulting in narrow sounds and channels subject to high tidal streams.

Habitats present:
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 in Kilkieran Bay have been the subjects of past and present studies completed by the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG). The range of habitats provide for a rich and varied fauna and flora.

Human impact:

The area is subjected to some aquaculture activity (mainly salmon farming and Mytilus edulis culture). Seaweed (Ascophyllum nodosum) collection does occur. However the area is not heavily populated and there is no heavy industry.


Facilities for marine biodiversity research are available from the National University of Ireland, Galway and there is a small research laboratory at Carna.

Available database and website:

The results of the BIOMAR survey are available on CD;


Commitment and ongoing research:

There is ongoing marine biodiversity research in Kilkieran Bay linked with the development of management plans for the SAC. 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.