Shannon Dolphin and Wildlife Foundation
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Special Area of Conservation (SAC)

What does Special Area of Conservation mean?

Designation of the Shannon estuary as a SAC entitles the dolphins to full habitat protection and it the most powerful wildlife conservation legislation in the EU. The Lower River Shannon SAC (Site Code 2165) is a very large site that encompasses the lower River Shannon and Shannon estuary, from Killaloe to Loop and Kerry Heads. The site includes the lower freshwater reaches of the Cloon, Fergus Kilmastulla and Mulkear rivers and the Shannon Fergus Estuary cSPA and Loop Head cSPA. The site is of international ecological importance and contains 18 important habitats and six vertebrate species (three species of Lamprey, Bottlenose dolphin, Otter and Freshwater Pearl Mussel) as well as including six bird species (Brent Goose, Golden Plover, Dunlin, Redshank, Bar-tailed Godwit, Black-tailed Godwit). Thus you can see that bottlenose dolphins are only one species of importance in the Shannon estuary

Dolphin-watching within the SAC is a notifiable activity with operators required to seek permission each year from the Minister of Environment, Heritage and Local Government before carrying out commercial dolphin-watching. This will be granted providing operators abide by the Code of Conduct and Conservation Plan, provide monitoring data and include environmental education and interpretation as part of the dolphin-watching trip. Successful vessels will be accreditated under Saoirse na Sionna.

If you are interested in learning more about the tourism and management implications of SAC status on the conservation of bottlenose dolphins in the Shannon estuary download EU Habitats Directive and Tourism Development Programmes in the Shannon estuary, Ireland (PDF file, 100 KB).

Shannon Dolphin survey in Tralee and Brandon Bays

A survey of Tralee and Brandon Bays for bottlenose dolphins has been ongoing all summer. read more...
9 August 2013


Special Area of Conservation (SAC)


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The SDWF is supported by the following agencies... Shannon Development Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government Marine Institute Clare County Council Kilrush Urban District Counil
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