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14th Dec 2023

Fáilte list Cork’s Lough Hyne as one of Ireland’s best swimming spots, despite scientists’ warning

Fiona Frawley

lough hyne cork swimming

Experts have warned that suncream and people urinating in the water is having a detrimental impact on Lough Hyne.

Earlier this month, Fáilte Ireland released their list of the top 10 swimming spots in Ireland, naming a diverse array of beaches, coves and lakes across the country.

Skibbereen’s Lough Hyne was among the top 10, but local scientists have warned that over-use of the lake could be detrimental to marine life and research being carried out there.

Speaking to the Southern Star last September, scientists Colin Little and Penny Stirling claimed that nitrates are killing Lough Hyne. They warned of an increase in anoxia (lack of oxygen) under the rocks, which can be fatal to marine life. The pair suggested that the main cause is likely to be agricultural run-off, but added that increased numbers of people swimming could also be having a negative impact.

‘I’m sure that most visitors do not wish to harm the environment, but they probably don’t understand that this is also a place where scientists attempt to carry out experiments,’ Penny told the Southern Star.

‘A few wild swimmers occasionally would not be a problem, but with larger numbers, there will inevitably be more disturbance.

‘This will impact on animals such as otters, and shy birds such as kingfishers,’ she added.

Meanwhile Professor Mark Costello, an expert on marine protected areas advises the public can help preserve Lough Hyne by not using suncreams, not walking on the seabed, and not urinating in or around the water.

Describing the lake, Fáilte Ireland wrote:

“Located just off the Skibbereen to Baltimore Road, Lough Hyne is nestled within a fold of rolling hills that offers beautiful views of the surrounding woodland areas. This spot has become hugely popular in recent years, with many claiming it’s a touch warmer than the open Atlantic Ocean, and perfect for a brisk winter swim.

“It is also the perfect time of year to pay a visit as you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the bioluminescence which appears on the lake and offers a magical swimming experience”.

Header image via Getty 


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