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Irish and Welsh coastlines explored in new TG4 documentary

A new documentary that dives deep into the coasts of Ireland and Wales comes to TG4 this week.

The natural history series Iontais na bhFarraigí Ceilteacha sees naturalist Eoin Warner take viewers on a breath-taking journey of discovery around the spectacular Celtic coasts of Ireland and Wales, exploring the extraordinary hidden wildlife around our shores.

The series was filmed over two years in Ultra High Definition (UHD) by some of the filmmakers behind natural history series Blue Planet, in a corner of these islands that has never previously been explored in such detail – Ireland’s sunny southeast and the Welsh coast.

The courtship rituals of bottle-nosed dolphins, basking sharks congregating off the Irish coast and the sex-shifting cuckoo wrasse are all documented.

The camera team also captured an incredible array of species including blue sharks and Fin whales – all swimming and hunting off our Celtic shores.

From Wexford’s Saltee Islands, Eoin observes the guillemots – seabirds that can ‘fly’ underwater, and they also encounter the humble blenny fish getting washed-up – but the blenny can breathe on land.

The team behind the show has captured some remarkable and exciting new behaviours that have never been filmed in Celtic waters before.

Things such as the courtship rituals of bottle-nosed dolphins and astonishing footage of basking sharks congregating off the Irish coast.

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The dive team also filmed the wonders of the Celtic deep where they discover sex-shifting cuckoo wrasse, huge sea urchins, ancient lobsters, and a giant conger eel, all hiding in a wreck.

Director Paddy Hayes said: “Getting close to nature – especially given recent lockdown events, provides such a great escape for the soul.

“The Iontais na bhFarraigí Ceilteacha team captured some really breath-taking footage of our undiscovered coasts and some eye-opening behaviour of our best-known marine animals’ – and it is such a joy to know that all this occurs just off our shores.”

The 3 episodes of Iontais na bhFarraigí Ceilteacha are divided into 3 habitats – the shores, the shallows and the deep.

The first episode, The Shores, sees presenter Eoin Warner explore the marine animals that inhabit the coastlines of Ireland and Wales who need to adapt to this rapidly changing environment.

In episode 2, The Shallows, Warner goes skindiving in the shallow seas where he explores “the seabed bursting with life”, including filming a female catshark as she lays an egg or “mermaid’s purse’” deep in the kelp forest floor.

In Episode 3, The Deep, Eoin explores the charismatic animals of the deep Celtic waters – from the giant fin whale to the tiny microplankton that is responsible for 50% of the air that we humans breathe.

The series ends with Eoin, after all he has witnessed, reflecting on the delicacy of this stunning submarine world, and how we must fight to preserve this fragile ecosystem for generations into the future.

Iontais Na bhFarraigí Ceilteacha is an Irish/Welsh BBC/TG4 co-production by Tua Films & One Tribe TV.

The first episode of Iontais na bhFarraigí Ceilteacha airs on TG4 Wednesday 12 January 12th at 9:30pm.

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