The world-famous Killarney lakes face an ecological threat from an invasive species that is using nutrient rich waters and warm temperatures to dominate the waterway.
Environmental officials admitted they were carefully monitoring the alarming spread of the fringed water lily, which was introduced to Ireland in the 19th Century as an ornamental pond species.
The plant, officially known as Nymphoides Peltata, is now classified as an invasive species to Ireland and locals fear that it poses a threat to indigenous plant species around the famous Kerry lakes.
Lough Leane is the most heavily affected by the fringed water lily, which has spread around the major bays of the lake. These include the most visited bays around Ross Castle, which are daily thronged with tourists who want to savour one of the most picturesque parts of Ireland.
Entire carpets of the lily have grown around bays which have slow-moving and sheltered waterways.
Such is the spread of the lily that tourists are commenting on the carpets of the plant to boatmen.
Biodiversity Ireland's Colette O'Flynn said the lily was having a comparable impact on the lakes as the rhododendron on the Kerry hills and mountains.