Saltee Islands

The two Saltee Islands, lying some 5km offshore, are numbered among the best-known seabird sanctuaries in north-west Europe. They are internationally important for holding an assemblage of over 20,000 breeding sea birds, are easily accessible, and are one of the best-documented sites in the country. Saltee Island Great is also a major site for spring and autumn land bird, butterfly and moth migration. Grey Seals breed there and the underwater marine life around the islands is both very diverse and of exceptional quality.

The communities present are excellent examples of those typical of tide-swept areas and many have fauna and flora that are tolerant of sand scour. No other area in Ireland surveyed during the BioMar Survey had so many species-rich communities. The Saltee Islands are Special Protection Area (SPA) IE004002 for ten named species of seabirds. The site is also Special Area of Conservation (SAC) IE000707 for its marine habitats, including reefs, sea caves and vegetated cliffs, and for the Grey Seals that congregate to breed around the islands each autumn.

500 Saltee Islands SPA and SAC
NPWS maps showing the extent of the Saltee Islands SPA (left) and the Saltee Islands SAC (right).

Further reading

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