Database release:

For Special Protection Areas (SPA),
Proposed Sites for Community Importance (pSCI),
Sites of Community Importance (SCI) and
for Special Areas of Conservation (SAC)



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1.1 Type


1.2 Site code


1.3 Site name

West Connacht Coast SAC

1.4 First Compilation date


1.5 Update date


1.6 Respondent:

Name/Organisation:National Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

1.7 Site indication and designation / classification dates

Date site proposed as SCI:2012-02
Date site confirmed as SCI: No information provided
Date site designated as SAC:2019-03
National legal reference of SAC designation:95/2019


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2.1 Site-centre location [decimal degrees]:


2.2 Area [ha]


2.3 Marine area [%]


2.4 Sitelength [km] (optional):

No information provided

2.5 Administrative region code and name

No information provided

2.6 Biogeographical Region(s)

Atlantic (0.00 %)


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3.1 Habitat types present on the site and assessment for them

No habitat types are reported for the site

3.2 Species referred to in Article 4 of Directive 2009/147/EC and listed in Annex II of Directive 92/43/EEC and site evaluation for them

Species Population in the site Site assessment
G Code Scientific Name S NP T Size Unit Cat. D.qual. A|B|C|D A|B|C
      MinMax  Pop.Con.Iso.Glo.
M1364Halichoerus grypus          DD       
M1365Phoca vitulina          DD       
M1351Phocoena phocoena          DD       
M1349Tursiops truncatus    123  219   
  • Group: A = Amphibians, B = Birds, F = Fish, I = Invertebrates, M = Mammals, P = Plants, R = Reptiles
  • S: in case that the data on species are sensitive and therefore have to be blocked for any public access enter: yes
  • NP: in case that a species is no longer present in the site enter: x (optional)
  • Type: p = permanent, r = reproducing, c = concentration, w = wintering (for plant and non-migratory species use permanent)
  • Unit: i = individuals, p = pairs or other units according to the Standard list of population units and codes in accordance with Article 12 and 17 reporting (see reference portal)
  • Abundance categories (Cat.): C = common, R = rare, V = very rare, P = present - to fill if data are deficient (DD) or in addition to population size information
  • Data quality: G = 'Good' (e.g. based on surveys); M = 'Moderate' (e.g. based on partial data with some extrapolation); P = 'Poor' (e.g. rough estimation); VP = 'Very poor' (use this category only, if not even a rough estimation of the population size can be made, in this case the fields for population size can remain empty, but the field "Abundance categories" has to be filled in)

3.3 Other important species of flora and fauna (optional)


Population in the site


Group CODE Scientific Name S NP Size Unit Cat. Species Annex Other categories
     MinMax C|R|V|PIVVABCD
2618Balaenoptera acutorostrata               
1350Delphinus delphis               
2030Grampus griseus               
2027Orcinus orca               
  • Group: A = Amphibians, B = Birds, F = Fish, Fu = Fungi, I = Invertebrates, L = Lichens, M = Mammals, P = Plants, R = Reptiles
  • CODE: for Birds, Annex IV and V species the code as provided in the reference portal should be used in addition to the scientific name
  • S: in case that the data on species are sensitive and therefore have to be blocked for any public access enter: yes
  • NP: in case that a species is no longer present in the site enter: x (optional)
  • Unit: i = individuals, p = pairs or other units according to the standard list of population units and codes in accordance with Article 12 and 17 reporting, (see reference portal)
  • Cat.: Abundance categories: C = common, R = rare, V = very rare, P = present
  • Motivation categories: IV, V: Annex Species (Habitats Directive), A: National Red List data; B: Endemics; C: International Conventions; D: other reasons


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4.1 General site character

Habitat class % Cover

Total Habitat Cover


Other Site Characteristics

The selected site, extending approximately 90 km in total length, encompasses two dynamic coastal water areas in the west of Ireland and a range of associated shallow marine habitats. These include exposed Atlantic continental shelf waters and sheltered coastal bays, diverse seabed structures including sedimentary basins and reefs, prominent headlands, islets and islands of various sizes. The site borders numerous existing designated sites for Annexed species and habitats, and is adjacent to a wide array of coastal features, e.g., sheltered bays, exposed open bays, estuaries, coastal cliffs and sea caves, several of which are also designated protected sites.

4.2 Quality and importance

The site represents a key habitat for the Annex II species Bottlenose Dolphin within Ireland. Survey data show that Bottlenose Dolphin occurrence within the site compares favourably with another designated site in the Lower Shannon Estuary and that dolphins sampled within the site are genetically distinct from those occupying the Shannon Estuary. Overall Bottlenose Dolphin population estimates for the site also exceed that of the Shannon Estuary. The species is known to range widely within the site and it occurs within the site in all seasons, while comparatively high group sizes of up to 50-65 dolphins or more have been recorded therein. Adults with young (i.e. calves) are commonly observed in summer within the site while foraging, resting and social behaviour are commonly recorded at key locations. Groups of dolphins demonstrate a level of site fidelity to such locations within and between years. Sighting records from coastal and boat-based observation are also significant for the coast of Ireland and groups of Bottlenose Dolphins have been tracked from land as they transit along the Atlantic coastline. The site contains a wide array of habitats and hydrographic features believed to be important for Bottlenose Dolphin, including areas of strong current flow within bays or adjacent to coastal headlands, islands, sandbanks, shoals and reefs. Harbour Porpoise, Short-beaked Common Dolphin, Risso's Dolphin, Killer Whale and Minke Whale are also recorded within the site. The site also contains two Annex II seal species: Harbour Seal and Grey Seal, which carry out breeding, resting, social behaviour and moulting activity at terrestrial or intertidal locations in immediate proximity to the site.

4.3 Threats, pressures and activities with impacts on the site

The most important impacts and activities with high effect on the site

Negative Impacts
RankThreats and pressures [code]Pollution (optional) [code]inside/outside [i|o|b]
Positive Impacts
RankActivities, management [code]Pollution (optional) [code]inside/outside [i|o|b]

Rank: H = high, M = medium, L = low
Pollution: N = Nitrogen input, P = Phosphor/Phosphate input, A = Acid input/acidification,
T = toxic inorganic chemicals, O = toxic organic chemicals, X = Mixed pollutions
i = inside, o = outside, b = both

4.4 Ownership (optional)

No information provided

4.5 Documentation (optional)

Berrow, S.D., Whooley, P. & Ferriss, S. (2002). Irish Whale and Dolphin Group cetacean sighting review (1991-2001). Irish Whale and Dolphin Group. 34pp. Berrow, S.D., Whooley, P., O'Connell, M. & Wall, D. (2010). Irish cetacean review (2000-2009). Irish Whale and Dolphin Group. 60pp. Coleman, M., Philpott, E., O'Donovan, M., Denniston, H., Walshe, L., Haberlin, M. & Englund, A. (2009). Marine Mammal Monitoring in Broadhaven Bay SAC, 2008. Project report to RSK Environment Ltd. Coastal and Marine Resources Centre, University College Cork. 68pp. Englund, A., Coleman, M. & Collins, C. (2006). Marine mammal monitoring in Broadhaven Bay: June – September 2005. Project report to RSKENSR Group Plc. Coastal and Marine Resources Centre, University College Cork, Cork. 40pp. Gordon, J., Berrow, S.D., Rogan, E. & Fennelly, S. (1997). Acoustic and visual survey of cetaceans off the Mullet Peninsula, Co. Mayo. Ir. Nat. J. 26(7/8): 251-259. Ingram, S.N., Englund, A. & Rogan, E. (2001). An extensive survey of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) on the west coast of Ireland. Report to The Heritage Council. No. WLD/2001/42. 17pp. Ingram, S.N. & Rogan, E. (2003). Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the Shannon Estuary and selected areas of the west-coast of Ireland. Report to the National Parks and Wildlife Service. 28pp. Ingram, S.N., Englund, A. & Rogan, E. (2003). Habitat use, abundance and site-fidelity of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in Connemara coastal waters, Co. Galway. Heritage Council Wildlife Grant Final Report #12314. 27pp. Ingram, S., Kavanagh, A., Englund, A. & Rogan, E. (2009). Site assessment of the waters of northwest Connemara. A survey of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). Report for the National Parks & Wildlife Service of Ireland. University College Cork, Cork. 33pp. I.W.D.G. (1990-2011). Various published and online Irish Whale and Dolphin Group sources. These included all Survey Reports delivered via the PReCast & ShOPS ship survey programmes, in addition to information gathered in the ISCOPE (2003-2005) and ISCOPE II (2006-2009) projects. Mirimin, L., Miller, R., Dillane, E., Berrow, S., Ingram, S., Cross, T. & Rogan, E. (2011). Fine-scale population genetic structuring of bottlenose dolphins in Irish coastal waters. Anim. Cons. p1-12. O'Brien, J. (2009). The inshore distribution and abundance of small cetaceans on the west coast of Ireland: Site assessment for SAC designation and an evaluation of monitoring techniques. PhD. thesis, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology. 218pp. O'Brien, J.M., Berrow, S.D., Ryan, C., McGrath, D., O'Connor, I., Pesante, G., Burrows, G., Massett, N., Kltzer, V. & Whooley, P. (2009). A note on long-distance matches of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) around the Irish coast using photo-identification. J. Cet. Res. Manage. 11(1): 71-76. Cadhla, O., Englund, A., Philpott, E., Mackey, M. & Ingram, S. (2003). Marine mammal monitoring in the waters of Broadhaven Bay & northwest Mayo: 2001-2002. Report to Enterprise Energy Ireland, Ltd. Coastal & Marine Resources Centre, University College, Cork. 74pp. Cadhla, O., Mackey, M., Aguilar de Soto, N., Rogan, E. & Connolly, N. (2004). Cetaceans and Seabirds of Ireland's Atlantic Margin. Volume II – Cetacean distribution & abundance. Report on research conducted under the 1997 Irish Petroleum Infrastructure Programme (PIP). Rockall Studies Group (RSG) projects 98/6, 99/38 and 00/13. 89pp. Oudejans, M. (2008). Bottlenose dolphins in northwest Ireland. A study to determine population size, habitat use and site fidelity in the coastal waters of County Mayo. Report to The Heritage Council, Kilkenny. 29pp. Oudejans, M., Ingram, S., Englund, A., Visser, F. & Rogan, E. (2010). Bottlenose dolphins in Connemara and Mayo 2008-2009. Movement patterns between two coastal areas in the west of Ireland. Report to the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Dublin. 29pp. Oudejans, M., Ingram, S., Englund, A., Visser, F. & Rogan, E. (2011). The bottlenose dolphin in NW Ireland: distribution, abundance and movement patterns. Conference paper presented to the 8th Annual Marine Biological Association Postgraduate Conference, Queen's University, Belfast. 24pp. Pollock, C.M., Reid, J.B., Webb, A. & Tasker, M.L. (1997). The distribution of seabirds and cetaceans in the waters around Ireland. JNCC Report No. 267. Joint Nature Conservation Commitee, Peterborough. 167pp. Reid, J.B., Evans, P.G.H. & Northridge, S.P. (2003). Atlas of cetacean distribution in north-west European waters. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough. 76pp. SCANS-II (2008). Small Cetaceans in the European Atlantic and North Sea (SCANS-II). Final Report covering the project activities from 01.04.2004 to 31.12.2006 under Life Project Number LIFE04NAT/GB/000245. Sea Mammal Research Unit, University of St. Andrews, UK. 54pp. Visser, F., Coleman, M., Denniston, H., O'Donovan, M. Walshe, L., Ponzo, A. & Cronin, M. (2010). Marine mammal monitoring in Broadhaven Bay 2009. Progress report to RSK Environment Limited Group. Coastal and Marine Resources Centre, University College Cork, Cork. 61pp.


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6.1 Body(ies) responsible for the site management:

No information provided

6.2 Management Plan(s):

An actual management plan does exist:

No, but in preparation

6.3 Conservation measures (optional)

No information provided



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