You are looking out over a very special area, The ‘Carrick Roads’ is a sunken river valley with a wealth of marine wildlife and rare fragile habitats. Underwater and out-of-sight to most of us is a patchwork of seabeds of different kinds, mud, sand, and rock, each is home to a wide variety of species.
Shallow sandbanks covered in water are home to the native oyster, a species which is becoming increasingly rare in Europe but that thrives here and is harvested by a unique traditional oyster fishery operating under sail and oar power alone.
Nearer the mouth of the estuary there are banks created entirely by bright purple corraline seaweed, known as maerl. This rare species of plant grows slowly and forms an intricate bed of limestone shapes with a huge surface area, home to thousands of tiny organisms.
Thornback Ray on maerl bed. Courtesy of Paul Naylor
The entire estuary complex is vital as a nursery area for many species including bass, mullet and Pollack. There are even underwater meadows of beautiful green eel grass – the only flowering plant in the sea, a perfect habitat for the elusive seahorse!
Eel Grass. Courtesy of Matt Slater