Marine Institute

The power of tides is explored in epic TG4 documentary series

April 30, 2019

Macdara O CuaigOceans flow over nearly three quarters of our planet and no matter how far from the shore that we live, oceans still affect our daily lives. Nowhere is this more apparent than the effect that the tide, one of the most powerful forces on earth, has on everyday life.

Taoide, an epic three-part TV series about the tide, premieres on TG4 this Wednesday (1 May, at 9.30pm). The programme visits some of the world's most stunning locations, from beaches to marshlands, swamps to estuarine mud flats.

The series, which will be broadcast as Tide in other locations, is an international collaboration. It is being broadcast first on TG4 and BBC Alba and will also be shown on S4C, BBC1 Northern Ireland and on stations in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan with the prospect of it being sold to more broadcasters internationally.

The Irish version on TG4 features a familiar face from the Marine Institute – Macdara Ó Cuaig.

Macdara, who is a native Irish speaker, presents the links on the TG4 show. In his day job, he is a Fisheries Scientist with the Fisheries Ecosystems Advisory Services of the Marine Institute.

"It was filmed during last summer so you can just imagine the footage that was recorded during the amazing weather in Ireland," says Macdara, who appears as a guest speaker on the international versions of the show.

"I was filming for about two weeks and got to see a lot of the draft footage when I was involved in writing the script. The production company in Ireland used a lot of aerial footage and time lapse photography and they had a longer shooting time to get all that footage.

"I'm looking forward to seeing how it all comes together with the international footage too. It brings you through the story of tides – starting with the physics of how the tides work right through to how we can harness energy from the tides."

The project was funded by TG4, BBC Alba, BBC Northern Ireland and S4C along with Chinese production company LIC and the distribution company Sky Vision. The series features footage from all over the world including Norway, China, Wales, Canada, Scotland, Netherlands, the Arctic Circle and England.

Some highlights include Canada's Bay of Fundy which has the highest tides on earth, the Corryvreckan Whirlpool off the coast of Scotland and the Silver Dragon in China, which is the largest river bore in the world, travelling at speeds of up to 25km an hour and rising to 40 metres high.

And, of course, there's plenty of fascinating footage from all around Ireland. The first programme features Lough Hyne, located close to Skibbereen in West Cork. It's Ireland's first marine nature conservation reserve and is one of the most important marine habitats in Europe.

"It's very unique from a science point-of-view," says Macdara. "It was once a fresh water lake but now is fully marine."

It's thought that rising sea levels flooded the lake with saline ocean water around 4,000 years ago. It's connected to the Atlantic Ocean via a narrow tidal channel known as the Rapids, so called because the lake empties there with a rush twice a day.

Taoide also filmed at Omey Island, near Clifden in Co Galway, where horse races are held along the beach at low-tide in the summer. The crew also filmed out at sea with the Galway Hookers and on Fínis Island on Connemara where you can walk onto the island at low tide.

Fínis Island has a soft spot in Macdara Ó Cuaig's heart.

"It's a wonderful place – you can see the turquoise water below, it's beautiful. It's a place where I spent a lot of time fishing as a commercial fisherman."

It's not the first time that Macdara, who was born and raised by the sea in Connemara, has been involved in a TG4 production – he worked on a series about the sea when he was in college studying Marine Science in NUI Galway. Macdara has been working as a Fisheries Scientist in the Marine Institute since 2001, working in Inshore for the past three years.

"It was really enjoyable making the series," says Macdara. "The producer, Donncha Mac Con Iomaire, was great to work with and we were focused on getting the best results for the programme."

Taoide, supported by the Marine Institute, premieres on TG4 this Wednesday (1 May) at 9.30pm.

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