Lough Hyne is a semi-enclosed marine lake situated 3 miles west of Skibereen and some 50 miles from Cork City in Southwest Ireland. It measures just 0.8 km by 0.6 km and it is believed that the Lough was a freshwater lake up to 4000 years ago, when a rise in sea levels joined it with the sea. It is now a highly sheltered, seawater basin connected to the North Atlantic Ocean via a narrow inlet called Barloge Creek.
At the northern end of Barloge Creek, there is a very narrow, shallow constriction known as the “Rapids”. The “Rapids” are no deeper than 5m at high tide and this highly restrictive sill leads to an asymmetrical tide with water flooding in for 4 hours and ebbing for 8.5 hours. Water flow within the Rapids can reach 3ms -1.
Lough Hyne was designated Europe’s first Marine Nature Reserve in 1981 in order to protect the rich biodiversity that occurs within its depths. The Lough supports many different marine habitats and environmental conditions (cliffs, beaches, boulders and saltmarshes in water movement ranging from still to very fast - 0.05 ms -1 to 3ms -1). The deepest part of the Lough is some 52m in the Western Trough. Whilst the rich fauna and flora of Lough Hyne have been protected for over 30 years (30th anniversary on June 3rd 2011), scientific research has been ongoing for well over 100 years.
Images (Top to bottom):
1. Lough Hyne as viewed from the summit of Knockomagh Hill (Photo: R. McAllen)
2. The “Rapids” situated at the southeast entrance to the Lough leading into Barloge Creek. University College Cork’s Renouf lab is seen next to the rapids.(Photo: R. McAllen)