by Tom McCloughlin, DCU Water Institute
For those of us living in east Fingal, there is an issue with transport. We live near the coast, but to travel north or south we have to go around the estuaries of Rogerstown-Turvey and they, because they are protected areas for wildlife, appear to be black holes in our local geography. We go around them but never to them. When you do they can appear empty and devoid of any life.If you are a fisherman you may wonder where your catch comes from, where do the fish reproduce and if you are a birdwatcher, you might wonder what do all the birds eat? The estuaries are where many fish species caught at sea come here to reproduce because the estuaries are sheltered but also be-cause they provide food for the young, just enough to keep them going until they get out to sea. The birds come from Canada and Iceland to feed on a variety of animals living in the mud, and each species has its preference (but like us, they’ll try different flavours!). The picture shows the ‘favourite’ food for each bird.The little mud animals depend on clean water entering the estuary, so if pollution enters a stream at Ballough, it has an effect at Rogerstown. Too much phosphate and the water is starved of oxygen because certain algae go mad. The mud animals die, and the birds arrive to find less food than before. Breeding fails, the birds move on to other already cramped areas, and the breeding cycle is interrupted reducing the population of birds who keep the fish and mud animals in check. Without them, the mud animals in turn over populate for the avail-able nutrients and space, and they in turn crash. If we keep our litter, rubbish, pollution, and dump-ing to ourselves, the estuaries will thrive and become the glory of Fingal, as great international hubs of life and biodiversity and a source of pride to show the rest of the country how to work for the environment.