Situated on the west County Clare/Galway coast, this is the shallow, more sheltered part of a large sea bay, which is partly protected from the open sea by the Aran Islands. On the eastern and southern sides of the site there are numerous shallow tidal inlets including the smaller bays of Kinvara, Aughinish, Corranroo and Ballyvaughan. The southern side is fringed with limestone pavement while a number of small, low islands composed of glacial deposits are located along the eastern side. Intertidal shellfish cultivation takes place mainly on the southern and eastern shores of the site, while the northern shore, where Galway city is located, is subject to greater human pressure, due to amenity and recreation use.
This is an important site for wintering waterfowl and breeding seabirds. Several other species occur at this site in numbers of national importance, including wintering Anas penelope (1,413 birds, 1995), Clangula hyemalis (71 birds, 1996), Charadrius hiaticula (449 birds, 1996), Pluvialis squatarola (86 birds, 1996), Pluvialis apricaria (2,275 birds, 1996) and Calidris alpina (1,835 birds, 1996), as well as breeding Phalacrocorax carbo (min. 220 pairs, 1987) and Sterna hirundo (98 pairs, 1995).
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
An ongoing problem is the discharge of untreated sewage from Galway city into the sea bay (`Other' threat). A proposal for the construction of a causeway across intertidal mudflats, to carry a pipeline to a sewage-treatment plant on Mutton Island, has met with controversy. However, this solution is now being implemented despite opposition and lack of favour from the European Commission. Effects on the inner bay in terms of changes to sediment patterns are unknown. Other threats to habitat quality include intertidal shellfish cultivation and development of the recreational and amenity potential of the site. The IBA overlaps with a proposed candidate Special Area for Conservation (Inner Galway Bay; area not known).
National None International High11,905 ha of IBA covered by Ramsar Site (Inner Galway Bay, 11,905 ha). 11,905 ha of IBA covered by Special Protection Area (Inner Galway Bay, 11,905 ha).