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Science Wednesdays: Ireland’s Wild River

Mon, 02/24/2014 - 11:24am -- WCVE

The Shannon is Ireland’s greatest geographical landmark and longest river. It is both a barrier and highway — a silver ribbon holding back the rugged landscapes of the west from the gentler plains to the east. On its journey south, the Shannon passes through a huge palette of rural landscapes, where on little-known backwaters, Ireland’s wild animals and plants still thrive as almost nowhere else.

For a year, wildlife cameraman Colin Stafford-Johnson lives on the river — camping on its banks, exploring its countless tributaries in a traditional canoe, following the river from dawn to dusk through the four seasons, on a quest to film the natural history of the Shannon as it has never been seen or heard or experienced before.

Watch Nature: Ireland’s Wild River February 26 at 8:00 p.m. on WCVE PBS/WHTJ PBS. Check listings for additional air-times.

Watch on PBS Video

The Shannon is the longest river in Ireland and Britain, flowing more than 200 miles from its source in northwestern County Cavan south to the Atlantic Ocean. The river offers a wealth of lakes, islands and tributaries which provide a lifeline for the countless wild animals and plants that shelter in and around its waters.

Shot over the course of a year, Stafford-Johnson spends all four seasons on the Shannon, canoeing its waters and camping along its banks, reveling in the sights and sounds of the river’s wild side. He follows the calls of birds and splashes of fish, seeking out hidden spots and delighting in the creatures he encounters, regaling us with stories about their habits and behaviors.