Inchydoney Beach, Clonakilty, Co. Cork. Credit: Joshua Hannah

January 15th 2024 has been deemed “the most depressing day of the year” or the day within our 365-day calendar year when people seem to feel the most “blue”.

This somewhat sad and perhaps unfair title is usually bestowed upon the third Monday of January (in the Northern Hemisphere). It is based on the typically bad weather associated with the time of year, the amount of debt incurred versus an ability to pay, as people await their January paycheck after an expensive holiday period, and when motivation hits a slump as people begin to renege on their New Year’s resolutions.

However, this January 15th we want to offer you a chance to reconnect with this wild and wonderful time of year in a way that leaves you feeling fresh, happy and a part of the bigger (blue) picture on our home planet which is 71% ocean. Here are five ways to reframe Blue Monday. 

 

1. Beach Clean 

Winter storms bring with them a lot of flotsam and jetsam, mostly plastic, that wash up on our shores. That’s why it is especially important to get out and clean our beaches at this time of year. By gathering winter beach litter we stop it from washing back out to sea and endangering marine life. 

Beach cleans not only leave you feeling good about doing your bit to protect the planet but being out in the fresh air and getting in some outdoor exercise gives a natural endorphin boost. 

If you don’t live by the sea why not head out to local parks, streets or streams? It’s also a great way to get back out into your community and socialise after a bit of winter hibernation. 

 

2. Mermaid’s Purse Search

It’s not all plastic that washes up on our shores with winter storms. You’ll notice large kelp stipes (these are like the trunks of the kelp plant) laid across the tide line. Well, among the evidence of our underwater forests are many of the sea’s most fascinating treasures. Mermaid’s purses await you in nearly all parts of Ireland. These are the eggcases of various species of our native sharks, skates and rays. 

A female shark will swim around a piece of seaweed as she lays her eggcase and its tendrils wrap around the seaweed to secure it. The baby shark then grows inside this secured eggcase that is suspended in the water and eventually breaks its way out and ventures into the open sea.

In the case of skates eggcases that don’t have tendrils to hang onto seaweed, they often deposit their eggcases in cracks between rocks and reefs to protect them. 

Preview or Download this eggcases identification chart from the Ray Project here.

To report your sightings visit, – Marine Dimensions  

 

3. Deep Breathing

Has anyone ever told you that every second breath we take comes from the ocean? What they mean is that at least 50% of the oxygen we breathe is created by tiny marine plants on the surface of the ocean, called phytoplankton. 

So we can connect to the ocean simply by breathing. Why not close your eyes and take three deep breaths and think of your favourite seaside memories or the calming effect of the sea? 

The sea can have an extremely calming effect on many people and connecting to it with our breath means it’s there anytime we need it. In fact our 2022 public survey found that two-thirds of people surveyed had an emotional connection to the sea, with its calming and relaxing effect on them being the key aspect of this emotional connection.

 

4. Sea Swimming

Could the wave of Christmas Day swims be making this the most popular New Year’s resolution in Ireland? Sea swimming has been growing in popularity over the past few years with most counties now having many local swimming clubs and groups.

Swimming in the sea can be an extremely refreshing way to fend off feelings of winter lethargy, but please ensure to take all necessary safety precautions before getting into cold water and never swim alone. 

 

5. Take Action 

The ocean for so many people is a source of enjoyment, recreation, happiness or employment. However, ocean health is seriously under pressure from human activity and climate change. Rising temperatures, over-exploitation and pollution are causing serious harm to our coastal habitats, the future of coastal communities and life on Earth as we know it.  

We are calling for new national legislation on Marine Protected Areas in Ireland that will allow for our seas to be protected and restored. Please sign our petition that calls on the Irish government to publish this vital legislation without delay; https://only.one/act/30×30-ireland 

 

Happy Blue Monday. 

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