September 5, 2008

Exotic Species Set Up Home in Ireland


Little egrets could soon be nesting in Co Armagh, while exotic trigger fish and slipper lobsters may invade the seas off counties Antrim and Down, it has been claimed.

They are among at least a dozen 'alien invaders' which are taking up residence in Ireland as global warming grips, according to a new documentary series airing on TG4.

The Chinese Mitten Crab, Bank Vole, Mourning Dove, Emperor Dragonflies, Natterjack Toad, Slow Worm, Trigger Fish and Slipper Lobster are all making inroads into Irish habitats, according to the six-part 'Coimhtioch Gan Cuireadh' or 'Alien Invaders'.

The programme, which launches on September 26, looks at how some of Ireland's most exotic species ended up making their home here.

John Murphy, wildlife expert and director of Waxwing Wildlife Productions, said: "The documentary features species of wildlife many people rarely if ever encounter even though they are present all around them.

"One such species, the Greater White-toothed Shrew, this year most likely slipped into the country in the roots of large imported continental-sources trees.

"This mammal is thriving in counties Tipperary and Limerick and will spread throughout the country like the bank vole has done."

Increasingly extreme Mediterranean climates have resulted in a dramatic rise in the numbers of exotic species of birds and marine fish arriving and settling in Ireland, he said.

"We are seeing more and more cases of alien species of birds appearing on our shores. The arrival and spread of the Collared Dove, Cattle Egrets and the melodic Blackcap are prime examples of this growing trend."

Some foreign species are having a detrimental effect on on the Irish environment and wildlife, according to Stan Nugent, Editor and Producer of 'Alien Invaders'. For example, zebra mussels, which have caused changes to the ecology of Lough Erne, originally came from the Caspian Sea and reached Ireland on the hulls of pleasure boats.

"During filming we examined the presence of Chinese Mitten Crabs along the River Suir, which unlike the River Thames does not possess a tidal barrier to stop the invasive species from progressing hundreds of miles up stream."

Originally published by LINDA McKEE ENVIRONMENT CORRESPONDENT [email protected]

(c) 2008 Belfast Telegraph. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.