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Shifting baselines are one of the greatest challenges facing marine conservation. Each new generation accepts their natural world as ‘normal’ without the perspective of historical loss to guide their world view. Someone who catches a pollock in their local bay today and considers that a good day’s fishing may not appreciate that their parent’s generation caught mackerel and seabass by the dozen in the same bay, while their grandparents generation caught mackerel, seabass, tope, common skate and angel shark!

Today’s divers wonder at the beauty of the underwater world, and bring that to others through digital photos and videos. But talking with divers who were active in the 60’s and 70’s it is clear that marinelife was much more bountiful on their dives and many will comment on how barren local dive sites seems to them now.

Only by researching and understanding what we have lost can we appreciate the potential of what our marine habitats could look like if allowed to recover from human impacts. ‘An Ebbing Tide’ is asking people across Ireland to research or recount the past biodiversity of their local coastline and submit their stories, research and photographs to us so that we can build up a picture of local marine biodiversity in times past.

This could be recalling accounts of past angling or diving, or asking a grandparent about sea life from their youth, researching old angling or diving logbooks or searching newspaper archives and government reports for information on local marine biodiversity.

Your submission should be in story / short essay format (max. 2000 words but as short as you like), giving us an impression of what the marine biodiversity of your coast looked like in times past. Please submit photos and copies of angling/diving logbooks to accompany your submission where possible and indeed you can submit your story in picture form with relevant picture titles and dates.

Stories and photographs can be uploaded at the link below and the results will be highlighted here on, via social media and in the project final report. This project’s outcome will be a picture of what Ireland’s coastal biodiversity looked like in times past and what it could look like again in the future.