Alien Invaders Land In Ireland

From: Dunphy Public Relations
Published: Thu Sep 04 2008

Accelerated global warming evidenced by record temperatures and rainfall levels is having a profound impact on Irish wildlife with increasing varieties and numbers of alien invaders landing on our shores, it has been claimed.

A new six part documentary series, due to be broadcast on TG4 later this month, features over a dozen foreign species never before featured on Irish television.

‘Coimhtíoch Gan Cuireadh’ or ‘Alien Invaders’ takes a broader look at Irish wildlife and recounts the fascinating stories of how some of Ireland’s alien species ended up in Ireland.

The species include the Chinese Mitten Crab, Bank Vole, Mourning Dove, Emperor Dragonfly, Natterjack Toad, Slow Worm, Trigger Fish and Slipper Lobster.

According to John Murphy, Wildlife expert and Director of Waxwing Wildlife Productions, ‘The documentary features species of wildlife many people rarely if ever encounter even though they are present all around them. One such species, the Greater White-toothed Shrew this year most likely slipped into the country in the roots of large imported continental-sourced trees. This mammal is thriving in counties Tipperary and Limerick and will spread throughout the country like the bank vole has done.’

Mr. Murphy added, ‘some of these invaders are relative newcomers to our country, while others have been with us for some time. These Aliens take the shape of birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, plants, fish, marine life and freshwater aquatic life forms.’

He explained that increasingly extreme Mediterranean climates had resulted in a dramatic rise in the numbers of exotic species of birds and maritime fish arriving and settling in Ireland.

‘We are seeing more and more cases of alien species of birds appearing on our shores. The arrival and spread of the Collared Dove, Cattle Egrets and the melodic Blackcap are prime examples of this growing trend. Meanwhile, during filming on Inish Bofin in County Galway this year we documented the first every sighting in Ireland of a Mourning Dove, which had arrived from the USA’ commented Mr. Murphy.

Mr. Stan Nugent, Editor and Producer of ‘Alien Invaders’, stated that the documentary provided real evidence of how some foreign species were having a detrimental impact on the Irish environment and on native wildlife.

He continued, ‘During filming we examined the presence of Chinese Mitten Crabs along the River Suir, which unlike the River Thames does not possess a tidal barrier to stop the invasive species from progressing hundreds of miles up stream. If left unchecked, these silent raiders will colonise our river systems to the detriment of other species. They will eat anything that comes their way including our native Crayfish and fish spawn. They put pressure on existing stocks of native fish stocks such as Brown Trout and Salmon. Mitten Crabs also live in holes, which they burrow out of the riverbank. This accelerates bank erosion.’

Mr. Nugent said that alien fish species were also appearing along Ireland’s coast in greater numbers.

The Grey Triggerfish is a warm-water species with a normal range in the tropical Atlantic and the Mediterranean. However, in more recent times during summer months when the seas are at their warmest, they can be found in the waters around Ireland. The same can be said of sea creatures like the Slipper Lobster, which have only been caught in recent times in Lobster pots in the south of the country.

Meanwhile, the upcoming documentary focuses on the origins of many of Ireland’s newest wildlife species.

The slow worm, which can only be found in the reclaimed meadow fringes of the Burren, where they were reportedly brought into Ireland by ‘new age hippies’ from Britain during the early 1970's.

Elsewhere, it is widely believed that the Bank Vole was introduced to Ireland in the 1920s during work on the Shannon hydroelectric scheme when large machinery for this development was shipped from ports in the north of Germany to Foynes on the river Shannon and some other Irish ports.

Facts Uncovered By ‘Alien Invaders’ About Ireland’s Counties (more info available on request – see Notes To Editor below):
Antrim: Trigger Fish and other marine invaders may soon be common off the Antrim coast
Armagh: How long will it be before Little Egrets and other Mediterranean birds nest in Armagh
Carlow: Chinese Mitten Crabs could MARCH into Carlow
Cavan: The Red Grouse and Hen Harrier are threatened by the spread of Spruce plantations
Clare: Bank Voles were introduced to Clare during the construction of the Ardnacrusha Hydroelectricity Scheme
Cork: Dace, an alien species to our rivers, were accidentally introduced to the Blackwater in Cork in 1889 by an English pike angler
Derry: Trigger Fish and other marine invaders may soon be common off the Derry coast.
Donegal: Bird species like the Fulmar may disappear from County Donegal if fish stocks continue to decline
Down: How long before Alien Slipper Lobsters are caught off the Down coast
Dublin: Emperor Dragonflies may soon reach a pond near you
Fermanagh: Zebra Mussels, which are spreading throughout the Shannon-Erne waterway, originated in the Caspian Sea and came into Ireland on the hulls of pleasure boats
Galway: First ever sighting of a Mourning Dove in Ireland took place on Inish Bofin Island this year
Kerry: Ireland’s only Toad can only be found in isolated parts of Kerry
Kildare: Emperor Dragonflies may soon reach a pond near you
Kilkenny: Chinese Mitten Crabs could soon colonise the River Nore and threaten the native Crayfish
Laois: Greater White-toothed shrew, which appeared in Ireland for the first time this year, may soon be appearing in Laois
Leitrim: Alien flying insects may soon be seen around the lovely lakes of Leitrim
Limerick: The Greater White-toothed Shrew, which arrived in Ireland from the continent this year, is spreading rapidly throughout Limerick
Longford: The American Grey Squirrel was introduced to Longford and decimated its Red Squirrel population
Louth: Trigger Fish and other marine invaders may soon be common off the Louth coast
Mayo: The Great Skuas, which breed in the high Arctic, are being seen more frequently off the Mayo coast, and could become a menace to our breeding seabird colonies
Meath: Country hedgerows provide perfect breeding ground for bank voles
Monaghan: The Red Grouse may soon disappear from the countryside
Offaly: The native Pygmy Shrew is being threatened by the arrival of the Greater White-toothed shrew
Roscommon: Little Egrets making Roscommon their home
Sligo: How long before Alien Slipper Lobsters are caught off the Sligo coast
Tipperary: Ireland’s newest alien species is discovered in the Premier County
Tyrone: Emperor Dragonflies may soon reach a pond near you
Waterford: Chinese Mitten Crabs are colonising the River Suir and threatening native Irish fish
Westmeath: Snipe and Grouse disappearing from Westmeath
Wexford: Bird species like the Fulmar may disappear from the Saltee Islands if fish stocks continue to decline
Wicklow: Bank Voles could become a food source for Red Kites

‘Alien Invaders’ will be broadcast on TG4 for six weeks starting on Friday 26 September at 8.30pm. The series will culminate with a new book to be published in November.

For more on ‘Alien Invaders’ see


Notes To Editor:
- John Murphy (086-3208965) and Stan Nugent (086-3705875) are available for interview and further comment on the documentary.
- Tom Lynch, Production Manager, Waxwing Wildlife Productions (087-2390738) is available to participate in Irish Language interviews
- High-resolution images of wildlife species featured in the documentary are available on request. Please contact Mark Dunphy of Dunphy PR on 086-8534900 or

Mark Dunphy
Dunphy Public Relations
Company: Dunphy Public Relations
Contact Name: Dunphy Public Relations
Contact Email:
Contact Phone: 00353868534900

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