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The Ecology of
the Rocky Shores
of Sherkin Island

A Twenty-Year Perspective

Gillian Bishop

The Ecology of the Rocky Shores of Sherkin Island - A Twenty-Year Perspective is the first major analysis of rocky shore data from a programme begun in 1975 in Co. Cork, southwest Ireland by Sherkin Island Marine Station.

The book gives well-illustrated background information on the common species of the rocky shore together with how the rocky shore food web functions. The main focus of the book though is seven shores on Sherkin Island where sampling was carried out monthly between April and October. These seven sites were part of an ongoing rocky shore monitoring programme of 152 sites, from Cork Harbour to Bantry Bay, along 700 miles of indented coastline of southwest Ireland. This is believed to have been one of the world’s longest and most extensive present day survey of the rocky shore. Sherkin Island Marine Station in Co Cork, Ireland, is a totally independent research station founded in 1975 by Matt Murphy and his late wife Eileen.

Faced with a huge database of hundreds of species, which are listed in the book, the analysis presented deals only with the few visually dominant animals and plants (up to 20 per shore) e.g. the large brown wracks, some common red and green seaweeds, barnacles, limpets, mussels, winkles and dogwhelks, which will be familiar to anyone with an interest in the seashore. The book was written specifically to include people and to appeal to a wider audience that the academic community. For this we are indebted to the author, Dr. Gillian Bishop, the Station’s first marine biologist in 1975 and an environmental consultant in Aberdeen, Scotland.


From: The Ecology of the Rocky Shores of Sherkin Island - A Twenty-year Perspective

This book is built upon exceptional and inspired effort going back to 1975. Year by year, volunteer biologists, scientific advisors and practical helpers have contributed to Sherkin Island Marine Station's rocky shore monitoring programme, which by international standards is now outstanding because of its scope and longevity. We are indebted to Dr Gillian Bishop for distilling an enormous amount of data, so that the programme's findings together with background information and interpretation can be brought to a wide audience. In this book there is something for everyone. Students and teachers (whether at school or university) will find much that is relevant to biological studies and fieldwork projects, and whilst the monitoring results are from southwest Cork, the information on species and on general principles is relevant for the whole of Ireland.

For researchers, it is a key to the huge data bank maintained at the Marine Station. For any member of the general public with an interest in marine biology, it is a way of exploring more deeply the fascinating dynamism of shore life. For environmental scientists, it elucidates long-term natural fluctuations and trends in the abundance and distribution of species. This helps provide a framework for interpreting perceived industrial or other human influences on the marine environment.

Notwithstanding the significance of this book, it is not the final word because the monitoring programme continues! It is a milestone.

Dr Jenifer M Baker
Shrewsbury, UK

Gillian Bishop, Phd

Author of "The Ecology of the Rocky Shores of Sherkin Island – A Twenty-Year Perspective"

I live with my family on a small mixed farm in Scotland near Aberdeen, and move in and out of this relatively tranquil environment and the hectic one of an environmental consultant in the UK oil industry.

For 13 years I have supported exploration drilling in sensitive marine environments. This mean researching and understanding all the environmental resources and sensitivities in an area where we plan to drill, writing oil spill contingency plans and discussing theses plans and operations with all the many interested parties – councils, natures conservation bodies, fisheries and of course the UK government. Over this time period, environmental legislation has increased and we now present formal environmental statements to summarise the proposed operation, issues and environmental impacts. Much of my work has centred on exploring the Atlantic Margin – the seas to the north and west of the UK – a fascinating area for the marine biologist – and oil industry seabed surveys have discovered many new species.

Recently I switched my allegiances to a gas production platform in the North Sea where gas, condensate and crude oil are produced and piped ashore, and more wells are continuously drilled into the reservoir. I manage the environmental programme for the platform, to ensure we are legally compliant and make constant efforts to minimise our environmental impact.

The best bits of the job for me are without question, those that focus on the marine environment – seabed and seashore animals and plants – when the marine biologist in me can take over again!

Price Euro 10.00 (softback)

plus postage - Ireland - €6.00

(Please email for postage rate outside Ireland)


ISBN: 1 870492 57 9 (sb)

305pp 175mm x 246mm

Published by Sherkin Island Marine Station 2003



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