Giant Irish visitor washed up at Woolacombe

Joseph Bulmer

Weather buoy swept from southern Ireland by Atlantic storms.

AN Irish “visitor” caused a stir on Monday when it was discovered washed up on Woolacombe beach.

The large buoy, part of Ireland’s marine weather buoy network, had broken free and drifted some 270 miles. It is normally chained to the seabed off the Emerald Isle south west coast and collects a range of data for weather and marine observation, including wave height, sea temperature, wind speed and direction.

Its owners, the Marine Institute in Ireland, told the Gazette they had lost contact with the M3 weather buoy more than three weeks ago.

“The buoy was torn from its mooring during severe weather on December 10, when it ceased transmitting,” a spokesperson said.

“Following efforts to re-establish communication, a radio navigational warning was issued. Nothing was found until Monday when the Argos system on the buoy began reporting positional information from Woolacombe Beach.”

A technician is travelling from Galway to assess the damage and the Marine Institute is working with Swansea Coastguard and beach owner Parkin Estates to recover the buoy.

The Irish Weather Buoy Network is funded by the Irish Government and run by the Institute in collaboration with Met Eireann and the UK Met Office.

It has taken a battering recently, with waves of eight to 10 metres plus a giant of 20.4 metres recorded on December 13.