Press Release: National Biodiversity Week Competition for Moonlight Kayak on Lough Hyne, Europe's most unique marine habitats

For Immediate Release
To celebrate the launch of National Biodiversity Week 2017, the Irish Environmental Network is offering people the chance to win two tickets to its Flagship Event: a moonlight kayak to witness the astonishing bioluminescence on Lough Hyne in county Cork, Europe’s first ever marine nature reserve.
The Irish Environmental Network (IEN) – an umbrella network of 30 environmental NGOs – will be celebrating National Biodiversity Week with events all across the country from 19th – 28th May 2017. The events are all free and led by wildlife experts.
The IEN team wish to mark the start of this celebratory week with our spectacular flagship event on Lough Hyne organised by Atlantic Sea Kayaking at 9pm on Wednesday, 17th May. The moonlight kayak is gentle and atmospheric and is suitable for beginners.
To be in with a chance of winning this unique opportunity, contestants are invited to send an email with their name and address to Please note that tickets are only available for Biodiversity Week’s Flagship event at Lough Hyne.
About Lough Hyne
In 1981 Lough Hyne was named Europe’s first ever marine nature reserve. Today, it has become one of the most studied slices of marine environment in the world and acts as the perfect location to launch Biodiversity Week 2017
The lough is home to phytoplankton which emit light at night called bioluminescence, bringing the water to life with pale blue lights. According to previous visitors, it feels like you are paddling through the stars.
Located 5km from Skibbereen, Lough Hyne is a seawater lake renowned for its extraordinary biodiversity and unique habitats. It was a freshwater lake up until 4,000 years ago, when sea levels rose and flooded it with salty ocean water through a narrow creek known as ‘The Rapids’.
This has resulted in an unusual habitat of warm oxygenated seawater, which sustains a spectacular variety of marine plants and animals including 72 species of fish, 73 kinds of sea slug and more than 100 sponges. Many of these species are not native to Ireland and are not found anywhere else on the island.
Photo Competitions 
As part of the National Biodiversity Week celebrations, the Irish Environmental Network is also holding a photography competition with the theme “Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism” to reflect the importance of biodiversity in sustainable tourism practices.
Photographs entered must be consistent with the theme and have been taken during the month of May. All entries should be emailed to with the subject ‘Photo Competition’. There are prizes of up to €500 for winning entries.
For more see
Jim Kennedy, owner of Atlantic Sea Kayaking said:
“There is always something to make you gasp on the moonlight kayak trip, whether it be the silhouette of the seabirds on the bank, the red sunset, the whole panoply of stars overhead, the moonlight reflected on the water, or, at certain times of year, the astonishing bio-luminescence.
“This is a light emitted by marine life, which, from the paddler’s point of view, causes the water to light up around your paddle in 1,000 tiny lights.
“We are fortunate to enjoy one of the most beautiful marine environments in the world in which to plan and undertake our journeys.
“But we know that for others to enjoy this special place, we must respect and protect it, and carry out our work in such a way that we enhance, rather than harm or deplete, its sustainability and its beauty.
“Protecting the habitat means that we enjoy it at its most pristine and beautiful best, and we know that those coming after us will benefit from it as well.”
Michael Ewing, IEN Coordinator, said: 
“This is a great opportunity to get out explore the variety of the natural world around you. Often we don’t have the time, the opportunity or perhaps the confidence to explore our natural surroundings as much as we’d like.
“National Biodiversity Week provides us with a great opportunity to learn more about our native plant and animal species and also to find out how we as individuals and as communities can help to ensure the survival of our wildlife for future generations.
“It is all about connecting people with nature. It’s about communicating the importance of biodiversity and motivating people to play their part in protecting it.
“From bat walks and urban beekeeping to whale watching and ecovillage tours, there is bound to be an event that will appeal to all members of the public.”

Notes for Editor:
Copies of former winners of the photography contest available here:
About Biodiversity Week:
Ireland’s National Biodiversity Week runs from the 19th – 28th May 2017. Over the course of ten days, up to 50 free events will be taking place all across the country, encouraging people to get outdoors, connect with nature and celebrate Ireland’s diverse species and natural habitats. All events are completely free and are open to the whole family. For more, see or our Facebook page
Biodiversity Week is organised by the Irish Environmental Network and is supported by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
About the Irish Environmental Network:
The Irish Environmental Network (IEN) is an umbrella network of 30 nationally active Irish Environmental NGOs that work individually and, as appropriate, jointly to protect and enhance the environment. The IEN supports its members by distributing core funding to member groups annually. For more see