On the 15th August we had our first team field trip to Bull Island and Dollymount Strand.
Situated on the North of Dublin Bay and jutting out from the North Wall, Bull Island is a fascinating example of the intermingling of culture and nature.
We began by walking along the North Wall looking out to Dublin Port and the iconic Poolbeg chimneys.
However, it was not long before Tas was on his hands and knees inspecting the seaweed as he and David (the ecologists) shared with John and I (who represent the humanities) the different species, how they function, and where to find them on the shoreline.
After a quick stop at the Realt na Mara statue we headed onto Dollymount Strand, which glistened in the sunshine. As we traversed the long sandy beach we discussed the project, our aims and the different methodologies we might develop to better understand the relationship between culture and ecosystems.
At the end of the island towards Howth, where the sediments shift with the movement of Sutton Creek, we were about to turn back when we spotted an object in the distance. It looked like a beached whale, dark and slumped on the wet sand. But as we approached it we discovered it was something else entirely. A rusting car abandoned and slowly decaying on the sandflats. And yet on its buckled and course metal frame a multitude of seashells had made themselves a home.
This was a microcosm of Bull Island itself. An intermingling of the natural and the cultural that is so combined it is sometimes hard to distinguish between the two. But to what extent is this abandoned car a cultural artifact and to what extent is it a biological habitat?
This is a challenge for the Cultural Value of Coastlines as we try to frame cultural interactions with biota and ecosystems in the framing of Cultural Ecosystem Services.
We will return to Bull Island soon.