Menu

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

In association with ISA Logo Irish Sailing

Latest Stories

#MarineScience - More than 70 leading marine scientists from across Europe met in Galway recently to discuss open access to research on ocean observation.

The Marine Institute in Oranmore hosted the second general assembly of the EU-funded Jerico-NEXT Project, which aims to build on the ongoing co-operation of coastal observatories in Europe — such as SmartBay in Galway — for wider application by the research community and society alike.

A fundamental tenet of the project is that coastal areas are the “most productive and dynamic environment” in the world’s oceans, according to the institute, with significant potential for renewable energy in particular.

“The Marine Institute has a longstanding commitment to the collection, processing and analysis of high quality coastal marine observations,” said the institute’s Paul Gaughan.

“In Ireland we are utilising the SmartBay coastal observatory, located 5km off Spiddal in Galway Bay, as a key component in this trans-European collaboration effort.

“From this we are able to deliver high quality information about sea conditions, subsea video and audio data in real-time to scientists around Europe to access and analyse.”

Data from the SmartBay site are freely available online.

The Marine Institute also recently hosted a delegation of officials from Kenya as part of the Memorandum of Understanding signed last year with the Kenyan Marine Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI).

The official visit focused on developing an action plan around seven priority areas outlined in the MoU, which include plans for marine fisheries management, hydro-acoustics and assessment of pelagic fisheries resources.

Other priorities are spatial analysis and mapping of vessel monitoring system (VMS) data, integration of VMS and logbook data for fisheries management, and a data management strategy.

Opportunities for exchange, study visits and developing joint PhD and post-doctoral research projects were also a focus of discussions.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineScience - The new mission to Ireland’s offshore reaches to monitor seismic activity on the North Atlantic floor is to engage with schools while at sea.

As previously covered on Afloat.ie, scientists from the Dublin Institute for Advances Studies (DIAS) departed last Monday 17 September, on board the RV Celtic Explorer, for the three-week voyage that will see them deploy a network of 18 seismometers as part of the SEA-SEIS project.

Daniel Farrell is reporting on their work via the RV Celtic Explorer’s blog [email protected].

“I am looking forward to sharing first-hand what it’s like being on a research vessel such as the RV Celtic Explorer,” says Farrell, of CoastMonkey.ie and sponsored by DIAS and the Marine Institute.

“I have a passion for the sea, and will be filming the scientists, writing content for the blog as well as taking photos of all of the activities where everyone can keep up to date with what is happening.”

Students and teachers can engage with the mission through Farrell’s blog posts as well as with a range of resources and videos available on the SEA-SEIS website.

“The SEA-SEIS team have also organised a range of activities that both primary and secondary schools can take part in over the next couple of months,” Farrell adds.

“There are teaching resources and lesson plans from the Explorers Education Programme, as well as some great competitions involving a drawing competition and composing a rap song.”

Published in Marine Science

#OurOceanWealth - A new report aims to brings together a clear picture of all activity in Ireland’s seas for the first time.

Published yesterday (Tuesday 18 September), the National Marine Planning Framework Baseline Report has been branded “a key part of the process of developing Ireland’s first marine spatial plan”, which is intended to be the marine equivalent of the National Planning Framework.

The report sets out the context in which the marine plan is being developed in order to identify the key issues to address via consultation or discussion with various stakeholders, whose responses will inform the first draft framework to be published in mid 2019.

Representatives from all key sectors — fisheries, aquaculture, energy, tourism, sport, local authorities and environmental NGOs — comprise an advisory group overseeing the process.

Speaking on the Baseline Report, Damien English, Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government with responsibility for marine planning, said: “When we see the demands being placed on our marine area clearly laid out, we can effectively consider whether those demands can be met simultaneously or whether some management or governance is required in particular areas.

“As we move further along the process of plan-making, the report, and your feedback on it, will play a critical part in the examining of potential synergies and co-existences, facilitating conflict resolution, anticipating future spatial needs and balancing the ecological, economic and social elements of the marine in a sustainable fashion.”

Developed with assistance from the Marine Institute, the report is available online and the public are invited to make submissions on it until noon on Friday 14 December.

A series of regional panel events discussing the report will be held shortly in Waterford (Tuesday 2 October), Galway (Friday 5 October), Sligo (Friday 12 October), Cork (Friday 19 October) and Dublin (Tuesday 23 October).

Published in Island News

#MarineScience - Researchers from the Dublin Institute for Advances Studies (DIAS) departed Cobh yesterday (Monday 17 September) on the RV Celtic Explorer with a mission to monitor seismic activity on the North Atlantic Ocean floor.

As Silicon Republic reports, the SEA-SEIS project will deploy 18 seismometers over the next three weeks to form a network that will cover Ireland’s offshore area.

These sensors will collect data over the next two years, measuring tiny vibrations from seismic and ocean waves that will inform 3D models to unveil the mysteries below the sea bed.

DIAS is partnering with the Marine Institute, Geological Survey of Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland and Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences (iCRAG) on the SEA-SEIS mission that will use acoustic sensors developed by the iMARL deep ocean listening project.

“The geological evolution of Ireland’s offshore territory is fascinating, but there is still so much of it to be explored,” said Prof Chris Bean, a specialist in geophysics at DIAS.

He added the SEA-SEIS project means that for the first time “we will be able to make long-term direct observations of the interactions between our oceans and solid Earth in this region.”

Silicon Republic has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineScience - The extensive work carried out jointly by the Marine Institute and Geological Survey Ireland through the INFOMAR programme received substantial exposure and recognition at the 16th Forum for the Exchange of Mutual Multibeam Experiences (FEMME) in Bordeaux last week.

Hosted by the Kongsberg Maritime User Forum and focussing on seabed mapping, FEMME provides an international platform for hydrographic professionals to meet, exchange experiences and ideas, provide inspiration and contribute to improved system performance and the future of underwater mapping technologies.

High-profile attendees include the secretary general of the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), chief hydrographers from the Service Hydrographique et Océanographique de la Marine (SHOM), and Seabed 2030 leaders.

An overview of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment-funded INFOMAR programme was provided by Dr Fabio Sacchetti, who updated the audience on future plans as well as recent achievements of the Irish national seabed mapping initiative.

Dr Sacchetti highlighted 10 case studies featuring multiple applications of multibeam technologies in support of sectors including coastal engineering, marine conservation and marine heritage and tourism.

In addition, a recent high-profile collaboration between INFOMAR and various US and Canadian research institutes was presented by international research partners in attendance.

INFOMAR featured prominently in a talk by Prof John Hughes Clarke (CCOM/University of New Hampshire) when describing research into the impact of internal wave activity on multibeam bathymetry in an Irish/Celtic Sea context, based on work conducted onboard the RV Celtic Explorer.

Prof Clarke has been collaborating with INFOMAR since 2015, and he is particularly focused on using hydrographic and fisheries sonar systems, combined with oceanographic data, to gain a deeper understanding of the dynamics and complexities of the Celtic Sea.

Jose Cordero, of Instituto Hidrografico dela Marina (Spain), demonstrated how improved sound speed control through remotely detecting thermocline undulations can be achieved.

The study was the result of a collaboration carried out in 2017 onboard the RV Celtic Explorer during a routine INFOMAR survey.

Finally, Anand D Hiroji (HSRC/University of Southern Mississippi) showed how unambiguous radiation pattern extraction methods can improve data derived from multisector multibeam Sonars. Once again, this study was carried out using data acquired by INFOMAR onboard the RV Celtic Explorer.

As Ireland continues toward completion of its seabed mapping programme in 2026, the Marine Institute says it is “widely acknowledged internationally” that our best practice approach towards open and integrated data acquisition, integration and exploitation “is a valued model, and one which gives Irish researchers and technology developers a global audience, and market.”

Published in Marine Science

#Angling - Novice anglers are invited to try their hand at fishing at the upcoming National Ploughing Championships.

Inland Fisheries Ireland will attend the three days that kick off in Screggan near Tullamore, Co Offaly from tomorrow, Tuesday 18 September, with a fun fishing simulator suitable for all the family.

The simulator will be present at IFI stand within the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment’s tent at the championships.

Fisheries officers will be on hand to answer questions from members of the public around best farming practice on waterways, and how to take up angling as a novice, as well to provide information and guidance around Ireland’s fish species and the aquatic environment.

There will also be aquariums with a range of coarse and game fish species on display.

“The participation of the public in the fisheries resource is vital in ensuring it is protected and enhanced in a sustainable manner for both the recreational and economic benefits it offers to communities nationwide,” says Suzanne Campion, IFI’s head of business development.

“We are looking forward to sharing insights into the fisheries resource, and the indigenous fish species that live within it, with both the general public and the farming community.”

Also exhibiting at the National Ploughing Championships this year are Leave No Trace Ireland and the Marine Institute’s Explorers Education Programme, who aim to highlight the impact of plastics in our oceans at their stand in the the Department of Community and Rural Affairs tent.

“A truckload of plastic waste finds its way into the ocean every minute of every day, and it is estimated that by 2050 there could be more plastic by weight than fish in the ocean unless behaviours change,” explains Maura Lyons, chief executive of Leave No Trace Ireland.

“Although we are all contributing to this worldwide epidemic, recent campaigns such as Say #No to Plastic have generated an amazing amount of supporters at community levels – particularly with children and families wanting to create change.”

With the research being completed in Ireland and around the world, results of plastics making their way into the ocean are showing a significant impact on the marine environment and animals.

Unprecedented levels of microscopic plastic particles were recently detected in an oceanic survey carried out by phytoplankton, biotoxin and oceanographic scientists from the Marine Institute.

From the larger plastics to clothes fibres from our washing machines all making their way into the ocean, visitors to the Leave No Trace/Explorers Education stand will get an opportunity to learn how long it takes for single-use plastic to break down, as well as receiving tips on how to go plastic free.

Those attending will also get to see live native marine species that are typically found in rock pools around the Irish coast including dogfish, plaice and starfish in the Explorers display boat.

“It is great to see an increased interest from children, schools, communities and businesses in Ireland that have already committed to reducing single-use plastics by offering alternatives for customers,” Lyons says. “These small changes can result in big impacts, which will help encourage a change in behaviours.”

Published in Angling

#MarineScience - Researchers at Trinity College Dublin have identified ‘super healing’ capabilities in limpets, as Trinity News reports.

The small molluscs, which can be found in coastal areas all around the world, were studied for a paper in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

Trinity scientists found that the limpets they studied were able to sense minor damage to their shells from weathering or predator attacks, and repair them much in the way mammals heal broken bones.

Meanwhile, sea sponges recently discovered in Ireland’s deep ocean territory could hold special medicinal properties, according to The Irish Times.

Samples taken during the recent Marine Institute expedition are being tested for their effectiveness in treating cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, epilepsy and other conditions.

The relevant chemicals are produced by the sponges as part of their defences against competing marine organisms, and NUI Galway’s Dr Louise Alcock hopes to see positive results within the next year.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineScience - Blooms of toxin-producing algae and unprecedented levels of microplastic particles were detected in a recent oceanic survey carried out by scientists from the Marine Institute.

Bristling with sensors and state-of-the-art technology, the German research vessel RS Heincke completed a circumnavigation of UK and Ireland this August in a month-long survey.

A team of six Irish phytoplankton, biotoxin and oceanographic scientists joined the survey, which was conducted by the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research in collaboration with the Marine Institute and the University of Oldenburg Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment.

A total of 75 stations were surveyed using instrumentation aboard the ship, which was primarily designed to investigate Azaspiracid toxins produced by a number of micro-planktonic species of the family Amphidomataceae.

“This research is important for us as Ireland remains the most affected country in the world by shellfish poisonings caused by toxins produced by these species,” said Joe Silke, senior scientist on the survey from the Marine Institute.

These toxins, which were first discovered 23 years ago during routine monitoring of Irish shellfish, have resulted in annual temporary closures of Irish shellfish production areas, with resulting economic loss from loss of sales and markets.

Recent research has identified that the Amphidomataceae, unlike many other toxic algae, are pelagic plankton found in the open sea to the west of Ireland. These can accumulate in specific cases of currents and wind direction, creating toxin problems in the shellfish production bays along the West coast.

This was the first time that near real-time analysis was possible underway due to the advanced equipment available for the survey, including a fully equipped chemistry lab capable of measuring and identifying trace levels of toxin produced by the plankton using a liquid chromatography mass spectrometry instrument. Only 30 minutes after taking plankton samples aboard a full characterisation of the toxins present was possible with this equipment.

“IrishIrish and German scientists aboard the RS Heincke for the HE516 phytoplankton survey of the North Sea, English Channel and Atlantic Shelf | Photo: Marine Institute

The team of scientists on board were able to confirm the presence of these phytoplankton at several offshore and nearshore stations, and collected an integrated data set comprising oceanographic, bio-optical, meteorological, plankton and sediment data accompanied by taxonomic determinations, toxin measurements and DNA analysis.

“Having the capability to carry out near real-time analysis of microscopic plankton while at sea to reveal the species present and their toxins is a huge leap forward in opportunities for our research programmes,” Silke said.

Simultaneous research activities included taxonomic analyses of the filtered plankton. Scientists used high resolution microscopy, further supported by real-time analyses of the plankton using molecular biological technology designed to recognise the DNA fingerprint of individual species.

Automated instruments on board such as a FerryBox carried out physico-chemical analysis of underway water, and a Flow-Cam carried out automated particle measurements and image analysis of phytoplankton samples. Full bio-optical properties of the water were measured using instruments on the ship measuring spectral properties both above and in the water.

In the course of the survey, several other blooms of algae were detected along the oceanographic fronts traversed by the ship’s track. These included large blooms of the usual late summer phytoplankton that we commonly see in coastal waters. These comprised mostly diatoms and dinoflagellates, such as Dinophysis acuta that produce DSP shellfish toxins, and Karenia mikimotoi that can cause fish and invertebrate mortalities if it accumulates in coastal areas.

The survey also revealed several species of Azadinium, the target group for this survey. These included some rare species, and some that have not been recorded previously in Irish waters.

One unexpected observation in the plankton net hauls was the diverse and frequent observation of microplastic particles in the same size range as the phytoplankton. While the survey was not looking for these in particular, it was evident that their occurrence is more widespread than observed in previous surveys in offshore waters, and would also appear to be diverse in nature based on shape and colour.

The European Food Safety Authority stated recently that plastic particles of this nature are less likely to pass to humans through fish, because the they do not pass through the intestine into other tissues of finfish, and the digestive tract is normally discarded. They may, however, pass to the food chain through filter-feeding shellfish species where the GI tract is consumed.

The sizes of particles observed on this survey would lend support to this, although the risk of exposure to humans and its consequence on health requires more research.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineScience - A UCC-led group of scientists from across the globe have revealed a submarine canyon on the edge of Ireland’s continental shelf, 320km west of Dingle, after mapping an area twice the size of Malta.

The group returned last Friday (10 August) after a research expedition on board the Marine Institute’s RV Celtic Explorer with ROV Holland I, mapping 1,800 sqkm of seabed to image the upper canyon over a fortnight.

Scientists say the find is significant in understanding more about how submarine canyon helps transport carbon to the deep ocean.

Although there is excess CO2 in the atmosphere (the greenhouse effect), the ocean is absorbing this at the surface, and canyons pump this into the deep ocean where it cannot get back into the atmosphere.

The expedition, led by Dr Aaron Lim of UCC’s School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences (BEES), utilised the Marine Institute’s remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Holland I and state-of-the-art mapping technologies to learn more about the nature of the canyon.

“This is a vast submarine canyon system, with near-vertical 700m cliff in places and going as deep as 3,000m. You could stack 10 Eiffel towers on top of each other in there,” Dr Lim said. “So far from land this canyon is a natural laboratory from which we feel the pulse of the changing Atlantic.”

According to Dr Lim, this discovery coupled with recent findings on the Irish-Atlantic margin – including rare sponge reefs and a spectacular mountain range in the mid-Atlantic – shows the advances in both Ireland’s marine technology and scientific workforce. “Ireland is world-class, and for a small country we punch above our weight,” he said.

The Porcupine Bank Canyon is the westernmost submarine canyon on the contiguous Irish margin 320km west of Dingle and exits onto the abyssal plain at 4,000m water depth. The upper canyon is full of cold-water corals forming reefs and mounds which create a rim on the lip of the canyon 30m tall and 28 km long.

The coral reefs on the rim of the canyon eventually break off and slide down into the canyon, where they form an accumulation of coral rubble deeper within the canyon.

The ROV ventured deeper into the canyon and found significant build-ups of coral debris that have fallen from hundreds of meters above.

“This is all about transporting carbon stored cold water corals into the deep. The corals get their carbon from dead plankton raining down from the ocean surface so ultimately from our atmosphere,” said Prof Andy Wheeler of the School of BEES at UCC and the Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences (iCRAG).

“Increasing CO2 concentrations in our atmosphere are causing our extreme weather; oceans absorb this CO2 and canyons are a rapid route for pumping it into the deep ocean where it is safely stored away.”

The new detailed maps show lobes of sediment debris and the scars from submarine slides as the canyon walls collapse. There is also exposure of old crustal bedrock and incised channels in the canyon floor carved by sediment avalanches.

“We took cores with the ROV Holland I and the sediments reveal that although the canyon is quiet now, periodically it is a violent place where the seabed gets ripped up and eroded,” Prof Wheeler added.

The new mapping data shows a rim feature along the lip of the canyon at approximately 600m water depth.

“When we sent down the ROV, we saw that this rim is made of a profusion of cold water corals, which appears to extend for miles along the edge of the canyon,” said Prof Luis Conti of the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The research supports the shared vision of the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance, which includes the ongoing cooperation on ocean science and observation in the Atlantic Ocean.

The research has been funded by Science Foundation Ireland, Geological Survey Ireland and contributes to projects in the iCRAG. This research survey was also carried out with the support of the Marine Institute, funded under the Marine Research Programme 2014-2020 by the Irish Government.

Prof Wheeler’s Marine Geology Research Group in the UCC School of BEES is undertaking a research project to monitor the range of coral habitats within this canyon with the aim of understanding what drives these habitats, how they change through time and how sensitive they are to disturbances.

Published in Marine Science

#Buoys - After more than two decades of service as part of the Marine Institute’s national weather buoy network, the affectionately named ‘Bob the Buoy’ will see out his retirement as a permanent resident at Valentia Lighthouse.

Bob withstood countless storms over the years, reporting hourly weather observations to Met Éireann and European partners.

Now visitors to Valentia Island in Co Kerry can check out Bob’s new home at Cromwell Point and get a closer insight into Ireland’s marine navigation and safeguarding history.

“Weather buoys are a fundamental aspect of our maritime history, and it is our hope that Bob will emphasise this in his new location here, on Valentia, the most extreme south-westerly point of Europe,” said Paul Duff, member of the lighthouse committee which worked closely with the Marine Institute on the buoy’s relocation.

“It is fitting that he should be placed here, and we look forward to incorporating him into our visitor experience,” Duff added.

Lighthouse committee chair Brian Morgan said: “This is such a fantastic artefact. It is our hope that we can reinstate Bob, a working retirement if you like, in order for us to provide a weather feed which we can share through our community, and lighthouse network, utilising the available technology, but we will let him settle in first.”

Dr Guy Westbrook from the Marine Institute said he and his colleagues are delighted that Bob has a new home at Valentia to educate the public about the weather buoy network.

“Designed to improve weather forecasts and safety at sea around Ireland, the buoy network provides vital data for weather forecasts, shipping bulletins, gale and swell warnings as well as data for general public information and research,” Dr Westbrook added.

In other news, the large marker buoy found adrift by Clifden RNLI in late July has been removed from the Connemara coast.

Harry Duggan of the Commissioners of Irish Lights says the buoy, which originated in Canadian waters, was as of yesterday (Friday 10 August) on its way to CIL headquarters in Dun Laoghaire.

The CIL recommends caution around any and all aids to navigation around the Irish coast.

Published in Marine Science
Page 1 of 23

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

DBSC
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club

Featured Brokers

mgm sidebutton

Featured Associations

ISA sidebutton
ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Events

corkweek sidebutton
tokyo sidebutton
roundireland sidebutton
wave regatta
sovscup sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
viking sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
sellingboat sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating