There are plenty of resources available to divers interested in learning more about the underwater life they see in Irish waters. This is far from an exhaustive list and if you spot anything that’s missing or want to highlight a resource you’ve used email us at SeasearchIreland@gmail.com and we’ll add it to the list.
Single species identification sheets aimed at identifying the most commonly seen species in Irish waters or those that have an unusual distribution.
A short guide to the 5 most commonly seen wrasse species in Irish waters.
The first port of call for most divers and generally easiest to use as you can flick through pages muttering “it was a orangey thing, where’s the photo of an orangey thing?”. Guide books are a great tool as they can be accessed in the most remote locations unlike online resources and pored over while you’re still wet. Below is a list of some of the most useful books available, all are avaialbe from the Marine Conservation Society bookshop by clicking on the image.
Observer’s Guide to Marine Life of Britain and Ireland – Chris Woods
An excellent first port of call this book organises species by taxonomic group and contains a bit of everything, fish, anemones, seaweeds, crabs and sea squirts, and contains over 200 species. Particularly useful for people beginning recording as it contains information on depth, habitat, size and distribution to narrow down your options.
****A new and updated second edition is due out shortly and with almost 300 species in the new edition it’s likely to be a must have for any respectable recorder.
A slight step up from the Observer’s Guide as it’s bigger and therefore contains more species and, more importantly, more photos allowing you to get a better comparison of what you say to the image in the book. This book is supplied as part of the Adopt a Site workshop training program but for a serious recorder needs to be combined with
The most comprehensive guide on Seaweeds available without delving into the world of scientific keys this book contains virtually every algae species you’re likely to find on a stretch of coast. While it’s a must have to really expand your knowledge of seaweeds it does come with the caveat that it is perhaps too detailed and you can find yourself confused between numerous different species of fiddly reds.
Quick confession I love this book and think it has been the most helpful in terms of coming to grips with the fish I see diving. While written for Wales this book encompasses all of the most common fish you’re likely to see in Irish waters and a few uncommon ones you’re likely to never see, as well as regional oddities and the fiddly small guys. Whether it’s you want to tell the difference between a John Dory and a Basking Shark or start identifying your Callionymus lyra from your Callionymus reticulata whatever your level of fish knowledge I’d highly recommend this book
Exactly what it says on the tin this book is a comprehensive guide to the 77 sea anemones and corals found in British and Irish inshore waters. Once you’ve mastered the common anemones (Dahlias, Jewel, Plumose, Devonshire Cup Coral etc.) this guide is essential for expanding your knowledge of the rest.
One for the real anoraks this. Bryozoans and Hydroids are criminally overlooked by divers. This guide can help you identify over 120 species of stuff you’ve probably never really looked at before. If you’re at this stage you’re heading for “weirdo at dinner parties” level of recorder. Good for you.
“A photographic guide to the nudibranchs and other sea slugs recorded around the coast of Scotland. 107 species are described and illustrated, with up to 8 images for each species, including their spawn and food, and general information on the main groups. There are also distribution maps for 102 species and reproductions of the illustrations from Alder & Hancock’s 1845-55 monograph for 74 species. All 107 species are illustrated in the Kindle version. Both versions now have the latest taxonomic updates.”
The Encyclopedia of Marine Life of Britain and Ireland is edited by Bernard E. Picton and Christine C. Morrow and hosted by the University of Ulster. Excellent for all groups with the exception of worms and crustaceans this website is particularly useful for sea squirts and marine molluscs (nudibranchs in particular).
Typically contains much more detailed information than the Ulster Museum website the only complaint that could be aimed at this website is that is only covers a much smaller selection of species.
Unfortunately due the bias in conservation towards terrestrial vertebrates there are not many entries on the list relating to marine creatures and those that are tend to be fish. However extremely detailed information for the entries that are there as well as information on conservation status.
In addition to their mapping system the Data Centre’s website contains information on Irish species. However the entries here are almost entirely restricted to invasive species.
Useful for checking scientific names for species and updates in taxonomy.
A picture gallery of 58 nudibranch and sea slugs found in Ireland
Intended for anglers rather than divers this useful tool was published by the Central Fisheries Board in 2003.
Published in 2016 the most up to date overview of sharks, skates and rays in Irish waters.
Specific reports on various species or sites in Ireland.
Habitat classification systems
Fossitt Guide to Habitats of Ireland – pages 88-95