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Series 17 – ‘The Living Beach’ 

with Dr Lara Dungan and Anja Murray

 Synopsis: This episode will see Dr Lara Dungan and Anja Murray explore the unique natural heritage of Ireland’s beaches and the pressures these special ecosystems currently face. Both journeys will highlight the importance of collaboration in preserving these wild and wonderful spaces. What do our beaches mean to us? And what would we do to protect them?

Lara will explore the value of beaches as recreation spots, and as a way to improve physical and mental health. She will speak with surfing enthusiast and researcher Dr. Easkey Britton about the significance of these coastal places, and explore the ‘blue health’ principle of the sea’s effect on our wellbeing. She’ll also investigate the threat our beaches face from the release of raw sewage throughout Ireland, pouring into the oceans without treatment. In the popular beach village of Spiddal on the west coast, Lara will investigate an antibiotic-resistant superbug found in the bathing areas of the beach, the first time such a virulent bacteria has been found in bathing water in Europe. This superbug is a direct result of raw untreated sewage water being discharged into Spiddal beach.

On her journey, Anja will investigate the rich array of life inhabiting the hidden world of sand, dunes and shoreline. She’ll visit the rare Maharees tombolo, and witness how citizens are fighting against coastal squeeze and erosion to protect valuable wildlife such as the Natterjack toad.

Climate scientist and coastal specialist Dr. Eugene Farrell will set out the issues in the Maharees Heritage and Conservation project, whose volunteers have tried to help reverse these effects by planting sea grass, among other endeavours, to help push back the encroaching tide. But will it be enough to save this precious ecosystem?