Displaying items by tag: SeaMonitor
The SeaMonitor project, which is led by the Loughs Agency and supported by another eight leading marine science research institutions, was able to deploy some of its innovative species tracking technology to better understand and protect vulnerable marine life in our oceans.
Since April, following work on a tracking array at sea from the RV Celtic Voyager, scientists from across the partnership have managed to safely tag and release over 250 fish from five rivers in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland with trackers.
The technology behind them, called acoustic telemetry, involves deploying a series of listening stations from Malin Head to the island of Islay in Scotland that will record transmissions from a variety of marine species tagged by the project’s scientists.
The data, which is due to be downloaded from the receivers in the autumn, will be used to support the conservation of a variety of vulnerable species such as salmon, basking sharks, skate, dolphins, whales and seals.
Funding for the SeaMonitor project to the tune of €4.7m has been provided under the environment objective of the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).
Match-funding for this project has been provided by the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government in Ireland.
Welcoming the deployment, Gina McIntyre, chief of the Special EU Programmes Body, said: “I’m delighted to see such significant achievements for the SeaMonitor project given the significant challenges faced by all involved.
“This is a much-needed step forward for the conservation of a number of vulnerable species within our shared oceans. It only serves to highlight the benefits that are created through strong, mutually beneficial cross-border partnerships in the management of marine protected areas and species. Well done to all involved for advancing our understanding of our seas.”
Two juvenile seals named Ariel and Merida after the Disney princesses are part of a novel marine research project using the latest technology to record and understand harbour seals’ behaviour.
In a first for Northern Ireland, the Exploris Aquarium in Portaferry, Co Down has teamed up with University College Cork as part of the EU-funded, Loughs Agency-led SeaMonitor project to tag the female rehabilitated seals prior to their release from Knockinelder Beach in Co Down yesterday (Sunday 17 November).
Although seal pups have been rehabilitated and released by Exploris since 1989, this is the first time they have been tracked following release to give scientists a better understanding of how they fair post-release.
‘Although seal pups have been rehabilitated by Exploris since 1989, this is the first time they have been tracked following release’
Dr Mark Jessop, lead scientist from UCC, said: “We use state-of-the-art tags glued to the seals’ fur which drop off naturally during the seal’s annual moult, but until then provide information on where the seals are going as well as their dive behaviour.
“This gives us unique insights into post-rehabilitation survival and how juvenile seals learn to forage successfully in the wild.”
It is hoped that the data will be used to inform better management and protection for harbour seals.
The release of the two seals marks the first this season from Exploris Aquarium, NI’s only seal rehabilitation facility — with more releases to come.
“On average we take in about two dozen seals every year,” said Exploris curator, Peter Williams. “Seals are a protected species here in the UK and Europe so at Exploris we take in seal pups from all over the Northern Irish coast that have succumb to illness or have been affected by human interference and as a result abandoned by their mothers.”
Loughs Agency chief executive Sharon McMahon added: “This is an especially exciting time as the seals are the first species to be monitored since the project launched earlier this year.
“The agency is proud to be leading the way alongside expert colleagues from statutory and academic institutions and a range of stakeholders that will ultimately produce dynamic management plans for some of our most important and vulnerable species.”
‘These achievements ensure the safeguarding of our shared marine environment’
Discussing the importance of this work, Gina McIntyre, CEO of the Special EU Programmes Body, said: “I’m delighted to hear about the progress of this pioneering EU INTERREG cross-border project, which has seen a tremendous amount of development in such a short space of time.
“These achievements ensure the safeguarding of our shared marine environment and continue the necessary conservation work to protect priority species and habitats just like Ariel and Merida.
“The significant progress so far can be attributed to the strong cross-border partnership, combined with innovative marine technology. The expertise and determination of SeaMonitor’s project partners is helping push the boundaries of marine research in the seas not only around Northern Ireland, but in Ireland and Western Scotland.”
The work is part of SeaMonitor — a unique marine research project, the first of its kind in Europe, studying the seas around Ireland, Western Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The project is led by the Loughs Agency and supported by another eight leading marine research institutions, using innovative marine species tracking technology to better understand and protect vulnerable marine life in our oceans.