Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre is adjacent to the greater Tralee Bay which is a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), and is a designated Natura 2000 site. Tralee Bay was one of the first sites to be accredited by Ramsar as a wetlands of international importance in Ireland.
Officially Opened to the public in May 2013, Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre is set to be one of Kerry’s major visitor and eco attractions. The brain child of over ten years planning of Tralee Town Council this project became possible with the help of co funding from Failte Ireland the national tourism authority of Ireland under the YEAR National Development Plan.
The centre and its facilities are unique to the South of Ireland and are leading the way in the vastly expanding eco-tourism market. Located on the gateway to the Dingle Peninsula and on the Wild Altantic Way (WAW), Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre is a must see attraction for County Kerry. In 2013 the Guided Nature Boat Tour received Silver accreditation from Eco Tourism Ireland.
The Wetlands Centre is designed as a microcosm of the wild nature reserve it adjoins and utilises the rich natural heritage of the Tralee Bay area, which is a nature reserve of international importance. Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre overlooks the greater Tralee Bay; which encompasses over 8000 acres (3247ha) of pristine nature reserve.
Vibrant on the one hand, tranquil on the other, Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre is really a fantastic place to visit with facilities and activities to cater for all ages making your visit a uniquely individual experience. Whether you are looking for an all action activity outdoor day or a quiet and peaceful break from the stresses of modern living, the range of options are here.
The Tralee Bay Wetlands project was conceived by Tralee Town Council as an innovative and sustainable visitor attraction. It was designed and developed to the highest international standards, aimed at attracting up to 50,000 tourists per annum. The project, costing €4.5m to develop, was jointly funded by Tralee Town Council and Failte Ireland under the National Development Plan (2007-2013).
The project is unique in Ireland and is leading the way in the vastly expanding eco tourism market in Kerry. It is strategically located on the gateway to the Dingle Peninsula and will greatly enhance the visitor product offering in Tralee. The Wetlands Centre utilises the rich natural heritage of the Tralee Bay area, which is a nature reserve of international importance.
The Natural Heritage of Tralee Bay
Tralee Bay is an important area for Ireland’s natural heritage, a Natura2000 site comprising a very diverse range of coastal and wetland habitats that are important both nationally and internationally. Natura2000 is the centrepiece of European nature and biodiversity policy, and consists of an EU-wide network of nature protection areas established under the 1992 Habitats Directive. The bay is a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) designated by Ireland under this directive, as well as a Special Protection Area (SPA) under the 1979 Birds Directive. Additionally, the bay was among the first Irish sites to be designated under the international RAMSAR convention, a treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
Both the River Lee and Owenmore estuaries feature wide expanses of sheltered intertidal flats, often fringed with saltmarsh vegetation. These flats are extremely important wintering habitat for several threatened wildfowl species, most notably European golden plover and bar-tailed godwit. The bay is also home to internationally important numbers of wintering wetland birds like teal, whooper swans and pale-bellied Brent geese, which feed on the extensive eelgrass beds found in the eastern part of the bay.
The fixed sand-dunes and dune slacks at Magharabeg are among the most species-rich examples of these threatened habitats in Ireland, supporting in particular the largest breeding population of natterjack toads in Ireland. Large numbers of European otter are active around the river estuaries and lagoons. Breeding habitat for two protected bird species, peregrine falcon and red-billed chough, is found in the Slieve Mish Mountains to the south of the bay, and the largest Irish breeding population of hen harrier is found to the north in the Stacks Mountains. Also present in the site are wonderful examples of flooded alluvial woodland remnants, such as Ballyseedy Wood, which is home to several rare species like the Killarney fern and the lesser horseshoe bat.
Tralee Bay is Special
Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre overlooks the greater Tralee Bay; which encompasses over 8000 acres (3247ha) of pristine nature reserve and is a designated Natura 2000 and Ramsar accredited site of, Wetland of International Importance.
Tralee Bay is of considerable ecological and conservational significance due to the great diversity of habitats contained within the area. It was among the first Irish sites to be designated under the international RAMSAR convention, a treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
The area supports populations of several rare plant species including the Killarney Fern and hosts one of the largest eel-grass beds in Ireland. Tralee Bay is an internationally important wetland for wintering waders and wildfoul including large numbers of pale – bellied Brent geese, Teal, Golden plover, Whooper Swans and other species.