NATURE AND WILDLIFE

 

FISHING

Sea angling

The southern part of the beach can produce flatfish and eel using lugworm and sandeel bait. Spinning for Pollack from Black Rock is also possible.

Coarse Fishing

Enquire locally for further information on fishing the Annagh River.


 

WILDLIFE

Many types of seaweeds, shellfish and other marine life are easy to investigate in the rock pools on Black Rock and on the rocky shore throughout the area. The area is an SAC – a special area of conservation. Spanish Point holds a very high number of littoral reef communities (13 different community types). The low shore and subtidal fringe at both Spanish Point and Cloghauninchy Point have high species richness that ranged from 71 to 85 species. Subtidally, the area is important for its deep, exposed reef communities that are characterized erect sponges and the fragile sea fan Eunicella verrucosa. There are a number of rare species present including the sponge Tetilla zetlandica which has only known from 4 localities in Ireland between Galway Bay and the Kerry Head Shoal. Algal communities are well developed, with an excellent diversity of red and brown algae species.


 

BIRDWATCHING

See information board at the beach for details of species that can be seen locally e.g. gulls, oystercatchers, purple sandpiper and turnstones.


 

GEOLOGY

 

The rocks in Spanish Point date back approximately 317- 320 million years to a period of time called the Pennsylvanian (Upper Carboniferous). They are sedimentary rocks and form part of what is called the Central Clare Group. At the time Ireland was much closer to the equator and large rivers delivered sand and mud to the coast where it was deposited in deltas. Think of the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi Delta today and you’ll have a good idea of Co. Clare 320 million years ago. The deltas advanced and retreated as the sea level rose and fell creating 5 cycles or cyclothems. The oldest two cycles form the Cliffs of Moher whereas here at Spanish Point we have the top of the third cycle (the Doolicky Cyclothem) and cyclothem IV.

Different layers and types of rocks can be seen as you walk along the shore. The rock layers or beds slope or dip in a south-easterly direction as they were gently warped and tilted by earth movements after deposition (a period of mountain building that affected much of Europe referred to as the Variscan). The rock types are sandstones, siltstones and mudstones originally deposited in river channels, on sand bars where the rivers entered the sea, in muddy bays and marshes, and on the sea floor offshore of the deltas. The sandstone beds are more resistant to modern coastal erosion and form the obvious ribs projecting out into the sea.

 

 

Episodic rises of sea level flooded over the deltas and allowed black organic-rich mud and the shells of marine organisms settle to the sea floor for a time. Flooding and retreat of the deltas was driven by melting of ice as the Earth was in the grips of an Ice Age during the Pennsylvanian. The black shales that accumulated at time of high sea level contain abundant ammonoid fossils. These were pelagic animals like the modern Nautilus and their shells settled onto the sea floor and allow the rocks to be dated and the different Clare cyclothems to be distinguished. There is one of these fossil-rich layers on the shore here.

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Goniatites Photo : J.Kruse

 

The sandstones contain many structures that help reconstruct the original environment. You can easily see the ripple marks on the surface of the rocks made by waves and currents – it looks as if the tide has just gone out – but for these rocks the tide went out 330 million years ago.

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http://www.sepmstrata.org

 

There is also a fossil soil layer which formed on a temporary patch of

dry ground between water channels in the delta all those millennia ago. Look out for the remains of fossil tree roots on this surface.

There was once a forest here! Like the Mississippi delta today these

dry ground between water channels in the delta all those millennia ago. Look out for the remains of fossil tree roots on this surface.

There was once a forest here! Like the Mississippi delta today, these Clare deltas advanced rapidly and were prone to underwater landsliding. Locally the layers are buckled and deformed as a result of sliding (best seen on the shore close to the Armada Hotel).

Examples of fossils

 

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Lepidodendron

 

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​Calamites