Sea Echoes: Ophelia is a warning for us all

Sea Echoes: Ophelia is a warning for us all
High seas pounding the waterfront at Cobh during Hurricane Ophelia Picture: Denis Minihane. 

Ophelia underlined how the oceans and our island nation are linked inextricably and should raise public awareness of the importance of the sea.

Hurricanes don’t hit this part of the world, has been the accepted logic, that they form in the Atlantic then spin westwards towards the Americas. Ophelia bucked that trend, heading east, creating meteorological history.

Higher than expected sea surface temperatures in the northeast Atlantic, along with wind conditions built up Ophelia. When it struck Cork and Kerry it had become a Category 3 Storm, the sixth Atlantic storm of that strength this year, the first to form so far east in the Atlantic.

American Meteorologist Eric Holthaus observed: “Ophelia is hitting Ireland so I’ll say this - climate change is going to bring more hurricanes to Europe.” 

Scientific opinion does not agree on whether climate change or warming of the oceans caused Ophelia. But there is a clear message – the oceans have been used as a massive sink that traps greenhouse gas emanating from land.

How long they can go on doing so is unknown.


The National Maritime College will open its doors today (Thursday) for tours of the College and the opportunity of a career at sea. Representatives from international shipping companies and maritime organisations will be available to provide information about careers in the maritime industry. Throughout the Open Day there will be:

  • Tours of the state-of-the-art training facilities at the College.
  • An events’ hall to meet international maritime companies and organisations.
  • Presentations for schools and students on course opportunities at the NMCI.

It takes places from 10am to 5pm. Enquiries and group bookings telephone: 021-4335607. Email: 


How much does the Government have in preserving Ireland’s offshore island communities?

Not a lot it seems, to judge from what I’ve been hearing from the representative organisation, Comhdháil Oileán na hÉireann, (the Islands’ Federation), who claim that their attempts to get an inter-Departmental Committee formed for the islands has been resisted for several years by the Government.

Rhoda Twombly, Secretary of Comhdháil, was my guest on THIS ISLAND NATION and told me: “The Government can’t even bring itself to use the description ‘islands’ in any Department. She said that “housing is a major issue for sustainability of the islands, but that there are some County Councils whose response to islanders looking for housing is to get them to move to the mainland. That is denuding islands which are losing their populations.” 


Seabirds indicate a lot about what’s happening in the oceans, Niall Hatch, Development Officer with Birdwatch Ireland, told me. “Birds are not confined by borders and October is the peak month of the year for bird migrants into Ireland. A wide range of different species flock here from their more northerly Arctic breeding grounds to spend the Winter. Amongst the most significant of these is the group known as ‘waders,’ or ‘shorebirds’ as they are called in North America, for which Ireland is of major international importance as a wintering ground. Our largest ‘wader,’ now highly endangered as an Irish breeding species but still a common Winter migrant to our shores from further North, is the Curlew,” Niall said.

Tomorrow in ECHO SPORT SAILING – Irish sailors racing the world.

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