Mooney Goes Wild Monday 18 February 2019

Four Tips For Feeding Hungry Birds In Cold Weather

This is a tough time for birds.  Keen gardeners will know that their natural food source has been depleted, leaving our feathered friends struggling to find food.  They need all the help they can get. Learn more about feeding birds by clicking here for tips for feeding hungry birds in cold weather.



Twitter: @NatureRTE

Mooney Goes Wild

Mooney Goes Wild

Derek Mooney and guests explore the natural world in all its forms.

On Tonight's Programme

Tonight on Mooney Goes Wild we discuss the parasitic creatures that inspired the horror movie Alien and why hundreds appeared on a beach in County Donegal.  Each day we’re surrounded by soil but what actually is soil?  Reporter Terry Flanagan investigates for us!  Plus marine biologist Ken Whelan tries to solve the mystery of our missing salmon...

International Year of the Salmon 2019

2019 is the International Year of the Salmon As oceans become warmer, fish are finding it harder to find food.  Salmon are at risk from environmental change and human development across the Northern Hemisphere.  The epic migrations of salmon through rivers and oceans take them across borders, languages, cultures and economies, and saving these beautiful and influential creatures requires a uniquely large-scale solution.  The International Year of the Salmon aims to bring people together to share and develop knowledge more effectively, raise awareness and take action.

A stunning photo of a Salmon jumping, photo courtesy of Marine Biologist Ken Whelan

To learn more about this initiative Marine Biologist Ken Whelan joins our Mooney Goes Wild studio panel; Entomologist Éanna Ní Lamhna, Derek Mooney and Zoologist and Ornithologist Dr. Richard Collins.

A new study shows salmon leaving freshwater is an important factor in declining European salmon populations, according to early results from a project examining the early migration phase of salmon smolts (young salmon) from rivers across Europe.

The international project sees scientists from each participating country tag salmon smolts with miniaturised acoustic and radio transmitter tags in rivers in their own country, and track their migration journey through the lower parts of rivers, estuaries and coastal areas.  This study includes populations in Southern Europe which are most vulnerable to climate change.  In Ireland, this work is being carried out in the River Erriff, Inland Fisheries Ireland’s National Salmonid Index Catchment (NSIC).

For more information on this project click here

In addition to the activity in Ireland, tagging is being carried out on the River Bush (Northern Ireland), River Tamar (England), River Ulla and River Minho (Spain), River Göta and River Högvadsån (Sweden), River Skjern and River Storaa (Denmark)

This information will help scientists to understand the survival rates of salmon smolts during their migrations under varying conditions ranging from cooler climates in Sweden to warmer climate in Spain.  Already SMOLTRACK is providing new data on the initial migration of salmon smolts which will inform future management and conservation measures for this iconic species.

The current decline in Wild Atlantic Salmon since 1985 pictured above; credit to The Atlantic Salmon Trust

For more information about the SMOLTRACK project visit Fisheries Ireland website by clicking this link here, and by visiting Atlantic Salmon Trust by clicking this link here.

Mooney Goes Wild - Missing Salmon, What is Soil & 'Alien' Creatures in Donegal - 18.02.19

Tonight on Mooney Goes Wild we're joined by Zoologist and Ornithologist Dr. Richard Collins, Entomologist Éanna Ní Lamhna, Marine Biologist Ken Whelan, Reporter Terry Flanagan, National Botanic Gardens of Ireland Director Matthew Jebb and Oceanworld Aquarium Dingle Director Kevin Flannery. We try find our missing salmon, ask what is soil and learn more about the 'Alien' like creature Phronima.

'Alien' Creatures Washed Up on Donegal Beaches

The movie Alien has been described as the Texas Chainsaw Massacre of science and is considered one of the greatest films of all time deemed "culturally, historically and aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress in the USA.  As the story goes, things start to go badly wrong for the crew of a starship in deep space when an organism from inside an alien egg, leaps out and attaches itself to actor John Hurt’s face. 

Scene from the 1979 horror film Alien above, directed by Ridley Scott and written by Dan O'Bannon

It’s one of the most iconic and shocking scenes in movie-making history, a terrifying moment when as the crew sitsdown to share a meal.  A slimy, worm-like creature bursts out of John Hurt’s chest and escapes into the ship.

You might ask why are we talking about this on Mooney Goes Wild? Director Ridley Scott based his alien on a real sea creature called Phronima.  Recently hundreds of these washed up on several beaches in County Donegal. You can read more about that on the Donegal Daily by clicking here.

Kevin Flannery, Director of Oceanworld in Dingle joins us from our RTÉ studio in Baile na nGall, County Kerry. Kevin joins our Mooney Goes Wild panel consisting of Marine Biologist Ken Whelan, Entomologist Éanna Ní Lamhna, Derek Mooney and zoologist and ornithologist Dr. Richard Collins.

Kevin Flannery, Director of Oceanworld in Dingle pictured above, joins us from our Kerry RTÉ Studio

What is Soil? Terry Flanagan & Matthew Jebb Find Out

Mooney Goes Wild listener John Lynch asked us to answer his question that he couldn't solve.  Both John and his wife wondered where soil comes from and what exactly it is?

We sent our reporter Terry Flanagan to The National Botanic Gardens of Ireland in Glasnevin, Dublin to meet its Director Matthew Jebb to find out more about soil.

Mooney Goes Wild reporter Terry Flanagan with Matthew Jebb, Director National Botanic Gardens of Ireland

Check out Terry's video above and please like our Facebook Page by clicking into the video

There are three basic types of soil: sand, silt and clay although most soils are composed of a combination of the different types. This layer of soil is essential for life, with nutrients for plant growth and a vital habitat for many insects, worms and other organisms.

In October 1881, English naturalist, geologist and biologist Charles Darwin published his last scientific book shortly before his death called ‘The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms, with Observations on their Habits’. This book explores the earthworm behaviour and ecology. It was the first significant work on soil bioturbation although that term was not used by Darwin.

The Formation of Vegetable Mould: Through the Action of Worms, written by Charles Darwin in 1881 

Earthworms pictured above, are often seen in garden composts throughout Ireland


It is an offence to 'cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy hedgerows on uncultivated land during the nesting season from 1 March to 31 August, subject to certain exceptions'. For more information, click here.  To read the Heritage Bill 2016, as passed by Dáil Éireann on July 5th 2018, click here.  To read the Heritage Act 2018, click here.

To contact your local wildlife ranger, click here for contact details. To read the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000, click here.

Caring For Wild Animals

Please note that many species of mammals, birds, invertebrates etc... are protected under law and that, even with the best of intentions, only someone holding a relevant licence from the National Parks & Wildlife Service should attempt the care of these animals.  For full details, please click here to read the NPWS Checklist of protected & rare species in Ireland.  If you are concerned about a wild animal, please contact your local wildlife ranger - click here for details.


Please DO NOT send any live, dead or skeletal remains of any creature whatsoever to Mooney Goes Wild.  If you find an injured animal or bird, please contact the National Parks & Wildlife Service on 1890 20 20 21, or BirdWatch Ireland, on 01 281-9878, or visit



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Presenter: Derek Mooney


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