Applications are open until next Friday 22 November for the scheme co-ordinated in Ireland by the Marine Institute.
Mapping the Ocean Floor: An Introduction to Practical Aspects of Hydrographic Surveying will take place on board the RV Celtic Voyager in Cork Harbour from 19-25 February next year.
Teaching will focus on the operation of multi-beam echosounders and sub-bottom profiling and their applications for mapping and characterising the seabed. Offshore training will be supported by lectures, workshops and online resources.
On completion, participants of the Floating University will be able to demonstrate competence in designing and executing an offshore hydrographic survey, articulate understanding of the principles and methods applied to seabed surveying, as well as practice data acquisition and data processing for multi-beam echosounders and sub-bottom profiler systems.
Instruction will be from expert practitioners from the INFOMAR project with guest lecturers from the Marine Geology Research Group, University College Cork, and the National Institute of Oceanography and Applied Geophysics (OGS) in Italy.
A total of eight places are available for European postgraduate students (students of all nationalities enrolled at European universities) and online applications must be received by next Friday. Details of the Floating University and how to apply can be found HERE.
The Marine Institute’s Fisheries Ecosystems Advisory Services (FEAS) department will undertake a survey of herring off the West and North West Coasts from 1-10 December.
This survey is the fourth in a time series that is hoped will be developed into a long-term index of spawning/pre-spawning herring in ICES area 6a S/7b, for use in stock assessments in the future.
The overall 6a survey (6a N and 6a S/7b) is part of a collaborative partnership between Ireland, the Netherlands and UK (Scotland) that aims to improve understanding of the individual stock components of herring in 6a and 7b.
Next month’s survey will be conducted by the RV Celtic Voyager (callsign EIQN) using a towed body with two split-beam transducers (38 kHz and 120 kHz). The vessel will be trackable online during the survey.
In total around 1,100 nautical miles of cruise track will be undertaken with a mixture of parallel (spaced at 7.5 and 3.5 nm) and zig-zag transects. The vessel will display appropriate lights and signals.
Night operations will involve the towing of the two split-beam transducer. Fishing will take place opportunistically during daylight hours.
A geohazard investigation to provide support for ongoing research at the Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences (iCRAG) will be undertaken in the Irish Sea from Thursday 24 October until Wednesday 6 November, weather dependent.
The locations of these works at various shipwreck sites off the Louth coast are provided in Marine Notice No 41 of 2019. The equipment and techniques to be used include:
- Surveying using multibeam echo sounders and shallow seismics (pinger);
- Passive acoustic monitors (PAM) deployed at the indicated locations near the seabed to record acoustic data;
- Seismic sparker equipment to reveal subsurface structure and features;
- Sediment core taken at indicated locations to characterise the lithological characteristics of the seabed with grab samples taken within a 3nm range of these locations.
The surveys will be completed on a 24-hour schedule by the RV Celtic Voyager (callsign EIQN) which will display appropriate lights and signals.
Acoustic surveying using a multibeam echo sounder and seismic sub-bottom surveys using a sparker/pinger system will be performed during both day and night operations in accordance with safe operating practices regarding MMO procedures and cognisant of fishing gear.
Sediment sampling using cores will be carried out during daylight hours due to limited ship mobility. PAM units will be deployed and retrieved at both night and day as dictated by survey conditions.
The RV Celtic Voyager departed early this morning (Thursday 1 August) from the Port of Cork on a multidisciplinary marine wildlife survey investigating the biological and oceanographic features of the 100m contour line between Cork to Galway.
The survey team comprises scientists and students from the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG), Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology’s Marine and Freshwater Research Centre and NUI Galway’s Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences.
And they are hoping to learn more about what’s an apparent biodiversity hotspot, attracting the top marine predators in Irish waters from large predatory fish to seabirds and cetaceans.
Inspiration for the survey came from the regular occurrence of humpback whales observed near the 100m depth contour line, especially off West Kerry, and the team hopes to learn if this is consistent along the whole contour.
During the survey, which can be followed at the [email protected] blog, visual survey teams will record marine mammals and seabirds from the deck, and a hydrophone will be towed to record any vocalising whales and dolphins.
Physical oceanography will be recorded through CTD casts along six east-west transects during the night. If fish marks coincide with concentrations of marine predators, it’s hoped they will reveal what species are feeding and what they’re feeding on.
This survey also contributes to the IWDG’s WhaleTrack Ireland project, funded by Ryanair through its Carbon Carbon Offset Programme.
Ocean Sampling Day is a simultaneous sampling campaign of the world’s oceans by scientists globally. It is organised by an EU consortium of marine research institutes, known as ASSEMBLE Plus, of which NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute is a partner.
Chief scientist Prof Louise Allcock, who is director of the Centre for Ocean Research and Exploration within the Ryan Institute, led a team of four experienced scientists and 11 marine science undergraduates who are in the first to third year of their studies.
Prof Allcock said: “We will sample and filter water from the ocean, and our filter papers, as well as those from other sites around the world, which will be sent to a molecular lab in a marine station in Greece where all the DNA on the filter papers will be sequenced to give an estimate of what bacterial and invertebrate species are present in the ocean.
“A healthy ocean has a wide variety of species, an unhealthy ocean less so — and hence we get an overview of our ocean health."
Sheena Fennell, one of the experienced scientists in the team who has spent extensive time at sea, explained the benefits to the undergraduate students joining the expedition.
“The students learn in their lectures all about the water column, the bacteria and invertebrates living therein, and the specialised gears that we use to sample, but this is an opportunity for them to get genuine hands-on experience while contributing to an international research project.”
Prof Allcock spoke of the importance of this site to the project: “The SmartBay Observatory provides subsea data all year round which means there is an enormous environmental dataset to complement our physical samples.
“Taking our samples from here also affords us the opportunity to highlight this impressive infrastructure to our European colleagues.”
The Marine Institute is also entertaining a group of third-level students as part of the 2019 Summer Bursary Programme.
Coming from a variety of disciplines across seven academic institutions, the students will gain experience in various fields of marine science including marine fisheries, aquaculture, communications, archiving, ecology, chemistry and catchment research in placements running between eight and 12 weeks.
“The work experience programme enables students from a wide variety of disciplines to further their knowledge and research in their particular area of interest,” said Helen McCormick, programme co-ordinator and senior laboratory analyst at the Marine Institute.
“It also offers students the opportunity to expand their professional networks, by meeting fellow students from other universities as well as work with experts in the their field and across the marine sector.
"Previous bursars have gained various positions within the Marine Institute at all grades up to and including director level.”
While many of the bursars will be based in the laboratories and offices at the Marine Institute’s headquarters in Oranmore, some students are also stationed at the catchment research facility in Newport, Co Mayo, where they will work with salmonids and eels, while others will be based in Castletownbere, Co Cork sampling fish and shellfish catches.
The first in a series of hydrographic and geophysical surveys to be undertaken in the Celtic Sea and Atlantic Ocean under the INFOMAR programme between April and October 2019 is now under way.
The RV Celtic Voyager (callsign EIQN) set off on Friday 12 April for an 18-day survey, the first of four over the next five months 18 May-6 June, 12-28 July, 29 August-14 September).
The RV Celtic Explorer (callsign EIGB) will follow up with an 18-day survey from 21 September to 8 October. Both vessels will be towing a magnetometer sensor with a single cable of up to 200 metres in length.
Other survey vessel involved include the Geological Survey Ireland vessels RV Keary (callsign EI-GO-9), RV Geo (callsign EI-DK-6), RV Mallet (callsign EI-SN-9) and RV Lir (callsign EI-HI-2).
All will display appropriate lights and markers and will be listening on VHF Channel 16 throughout the course of the surveys.
It will also form a critical part of the State’s maritime infrastructure, supporting the Government’s national integrated marine plan, Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth, as well as the National Marine Research and Innovation Strategy.
“There are many challenges posed and threats in relation to our oceans and research is an intrinsic part of formulating a sustainable approach to the use, understanding and management of our oceans,” said Marine Minister Michael Creed.
“The funding of the new vessel demonstrates the Government’s commitment to expanding and strengthening marine science in Ireland to ensure our nation is equipped with the best scientific advice possible to enable a strong negotiating position and to maximise economic opportunities in a sustainable manner.”
Dr Peter Heffernan, chief executive of the Marine Institute, welcomed the signing of the research vessel design contract following an extensive EU tender process.
“The institute is on track and on budget with the design of the new vessel, which will provide critical national infrastructure and marks a major milestone in the Marine Institute's efforts to provide world-class marine science.
“The significantly enhanced capabilities of the new research vessel will help researchers, educators, students and the public gain a richer understanding of our ocean and will facilitate exploration that will lead to discoveries that stretch the bounds of our imagination.
Dr Heffernan added that “this significant investment in the nation’s scientific research recognises the Marine Institute's quarter-century of leadership in the field of oceanography and its long-standing and fruitful collaborations with partner institutions.
“The new vessel will enable us all to more efficiently explore, collaborate, and conduct global ocean research.”
Based in Galway, the vessel will be used by the Marine Institute and other State agencies and universities to undertake fisheries research, seabed mapping, oceanographic and environmental research and surveys, as well as student training.
Skipsteknisk AS are specialists in the design of highly advanced ships and are recognised internationally as leading designers in the research, fishing and offshore sectors.
The nature of marine equipment has changed significantly since the launch of Ireland’s first research vessel, the RV Celtic Voyager back in 1997
That’s according to Mick Gillooly, director of ocean science and information services with the Marine Institute.
“The new research vessel will be 50m long and will feature state-of-the-art technologies enabling a wide range of work including ocean monitoring, fish stock assessment and seabed surveying. This new vessel will be a silent research vessel, and will be designed to meet the stringent criteria of the ICES 209 noise standard for fisheries research.
“In addition, the vessel will be designed to operate in the harsh conditions encountered in the NE Atlantic and will be able to spend 21 days at sea. It will also support the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and autonomous underwater vehicle operations, which enable the exploration of our deep ocean down to 3,000m.”
Once the design phase is complete, the next phase is to tender for a shipyard to construct the vessel. This is expected to be complete by the end of this year, with delivery of the new vessel expected in early 2022.
The Marine Institute has welcomed Irish commitments announced at the recent Our Ocean Conference in Bali which include the provision of €25 million for a 50-metre modern research vessel to replace the RV Celtic Voyager.
“The vessel will provide critical national infrastructure to enable Ireland to address the considerable challenges of Brexit and the Common Fisheries Policy as well as climate-induced impacts on our oceans,” Marine Institute chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan said.
In addition, the Marine Institute says it has committed €2 million towards a new five-year programme of ocean and climate research.
With 50% funding from the EU ERDF scheme, the Marine Institute is running a competitive funding call to support the establishment of a principal investigator-led research team in an Irish higher education iSnstitution.
“This is a key investment to build capacity in an area of research prioritised under the National Marine Research and Innovation Strategy (2017-2021),” Dr Heffernan said.
“The research funded under this programme will deliver societally relevant knowledge aimed at better understanding the complex interactions between the ocean and climate change.”
Minister Creed also announced the continued commitment to the Environmental Educational module of Ireland’s Green Schools programme, and the continued support of the Clean Coasts programme.
“These programmes aim to build on Ireland’s marine and maritime heritage by increasing awareness of the value, opportunities and social benefits of our ocean wealth and identity, further supporting the Marine Institute’s Explorers Education Programme,” Dr Heffernan said.
Other announcements by Ireland include the provision of €10m to the local authority sector in Ireland to aid in the establishment of four Climate Action Regional Offices (CAROs) and €1m over a five-year period (2019-2024) towards a new programme of ocean and climate research.
The Marine Institute also welcomes commitments announced by the European Commission which include €300 million for EU-funded initiatives for projects to tackle plastic pollution, make the ‘blue economy’ more sustainable and improve research and marine surveillance.
#MarineWildlife - The RV Celtic Voyager departed the Port of Cork yesterday (Wednesday 24 October) for ‘Operation Orca’, a 12-day survey of an offshore killer whale community associated with the Northeast Atlantic mackerel fishery.
A team of marine scientists from University College Cork is on board the research vessel that’s headed to waters east of the Orkneys, to study the orcas that feed on mackerel between October and February each year.
“This is the first time a dedicated research vessel will be heading up to study these killer whales and we are hopeful to come back with a lot of data,” said PhD researcher and chief scientist Róisín Pinfield in her introductory blog for the survey.
“We will have cameras, GoPros, drones, underwater hydrophones collecting acoustic data so we can hear the killer whales and a RIB so we can get in close if weather conditions allow. Time to pray to the weather gods to keep the storms away!”
The [email protected] blog will be regularly updated by the Celtic Voyager team once they reach the fishing grounds and begin their survey, which runs till Sunday 4 November.
#MarineScience - Applications are open for shiptime in 2019 and 2020 on Ireland’s national research vessels Celtic Explorer and Celtic Voyager, as well as the ROV Holland I and the Laochra na Mara glider.
Every year a broad range of organisations use the Marine Institute’s vessels for research, development and monitoring programmes. These include Government departments and agencies, universities, research institutes and industry.
Applications for shiptime for 2019 and 2020 must be submitted using Research Vessel Operations’ online Survey Planning System (SPS) by Thursday 20 September. Please contact Research Vessel Operations to obtain an SPS login if you don’t already have one and to inquire about glider availability.
Each application will be reviewed and the applicant will be informed as soon as possible whether the shiptime they requested is available. If the requested shiptime is not available, alternative dates may be offered. The Vessel Charter Guidelines should be read carefully before submitting the ship time application form.
Applicants may seek grant aid to cover all or part of the vessel charter costs for research surveys or ship-based Training Programmes. The closing date for receipt of grant aid applications is 5pm on Friday 21 September.
Applicants for ship-based training are advised to consult with the Strategic Marine Alliance for Research and Training (SMART) at [email protected].
The survey schedules can change during the year, therefore please contact Research Vessel Operations to check whether any survey slots remain for 2018 or to be notified if any dates become available.