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#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

#MarineScience - The Marine Institute has welcomed commitments of €6 million in funding for seabed mapping and marine research announced at the fourth Our Ocean Conference in Malta last week.

Ciaran Cannon, Minister of State for International Development, addressed representatives from more than 200 countries at the EU conference, stressing the importance of promoting and protecting the world's marine resources for present and future generations.

Aside from the new funding for mapping and research, Minister Cannon also announced the roll-out of a 'groundbreaking' Global Citizenship marine environment education module for school children from September 2017 onwards.

“This programme will increase ocean literacy by fostering understanding of the important role our oceans play in our lives, how individual actions can affect them and how we can act together to protect them,” he said.

Marine Institute chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan explained that the new module supports the aims of the institute’s own Explorers Education Programme “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.”

Meanwhile, Minister Cannon committed to €320,000 in funding to the 2017 Clean Coasts programme and its more than 550 volunteer groups established in Ireland to date.

Also noted was an expansion of the 2015 Fishing for Litter programme, and continued contributions to support developing countries engagement at the UN on issues relating to marine governance.

In addition, Minister Cannon reaffirmed Ireland's commitment to prohibit the sale or manufacture of certain products containing microbeads, announced at the UN in June of this year.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineNotice - Mariners of the South Coast are advised that PSE Kinsale Energy will undertake a seabed mapping survey in the Kinsale Head and Seven Heads Gas Fields next week.

The survey is expected to begin on Monday 12 June and last for five or six days, subject to weather conditions.

The multi-beam mapping survey is to confirm the seabed status adjacent to subsea gas production infrastructure such as wellheads, manifolds and jacket/platform structures, collecting data for ongoing field maintenance operations and future planning.

The RV Celtic Voyager (Callsign EIQN) is scheduled to carry out the survey operations at specific locations to assess the status of the subsea infrastructure in relation to the adjacent seabed. A total of 15 multi-beam mapping locations are anticipated.

There will be a regular safety message broadcasting on VHF Channel 16 throughout the project. All vessels, particularly those engaged in fishing, are requested to give the RV Celtic
Voyager a wide berth and keep a sharp lookout in the relevant areas.

Full details of the survey area are included in Marine Notice No 24 of 2017, a PDF of which is available to read or download HERE.

Published in News Update

#MarineScience - The Marine Institute’s RV Celtic Voyager returned to Cork Harbour last week after the first of six INFOMAR seabed mapping surveys planned for 2017.

The two-week seabed survey carried out its operations in the Celtic Sea south of the Waterford and Wexford coastlines.

The research team — involving geophysicists, geologists, marine biologists and data processors Kevin Sheehan, David O'Sullivan, Oisin McManus, Nicola O'Brien and Michael Arrigan — were tasked to accurately map the physical, chemical and biological features of the seabed area.

INFOMAR survey operations are conducted by a fleet of research vessels — including the RV Celtic Voyager, which is used for mapping seabed terrain in water depths between 20m and 100m.

The vessels are equipped with advanced mapping technologies including state-of-the-art acoustic sonars, geophysical instrumentation and ground-truthing capabilities, as well as geophysical equipment and precise satellite positioning.

“This helps to ensure data collection is of the highest possible quality across a wide range of water depths, conditions and environments, providing us with full coverage mapping of the shape and type of the seabed below,” says David O'Sullivan.

The INFOMAR survey around Ireland is one of the largest civilian seabed mapping projects in the world and aims to gather high resolution seabed data that contributes to the sustainable development of Ireland's marine resource.

As an island nation, Ireland is responsible for the sustainable management of its marine resources and it is important that accurate seabed maps are created to enable effective governance.

“Gathering up-to-date information about our ocean is cognisant of ensuring we have the best available science and knowledge to inform decisions affecting our ocean, particularly in relation to fisheries management and the development of ocean energy,” added O’Sullivan.

The INtegrated Mapping FOr the Sustainable Development of Ireland's MArine Resource (INFOMAR) programme is a joint venture between the Geological Survey of Ireland and the Marine Institute, funded by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

Published in Marine Science

#INFOMAR - Galway’s Marine Institute hosts the 2016 Seminar for INFOMAR – Integrated Mapping for the Sustainable Development of Ireland’s Marine Resource – next Wednesday 19 October.

With a focus on ‘collectively creating an INFOMAR legacy’, the free day-long event will look back on the development and impact of seabed mapping in Ireland, as well as plans for completion of the coastal and shelf-mapping project, and optimising the use and value of knowledge gained from mapping data.

The morning’s two main sessions include a ‘birds eye view’ of mapping the seas of Ireland’s Exclusive Economic Zone, and exploring the latest mapping technology for coastal development and management.

Afternoon presentations will also look at INFOMAR’s role the in energy, infrastructure, environment and education sectors.

The full seminar agenda is online, and free registration is available HERE.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineNotice - All vessels on the East Coast, particularly those engaged in fishing, are requested to give a wide berth to a survey vessel carrying out seabed mapping operations on behalf of Clinton Marine Survey AB.

M/V Northern Wind (Callsign 2IOX2) began its survey on Thursday 22 September for a 15-day period, weather permitting. The vessel is displaying appropriate lights and markers, and is listening on VHF Channel 16 throughout the project.

The vessel may also be towing equipment including a sonar scanner, prompting the call for all other boats to keep a sharp lookout in relevant areas, the co-ordinates for which are detailed in Marine Notice No 40 of 2016, available to read or download HERE.

Published in Marine Warning

#SeabedMapping - The Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance's fifth transatlantic seabed mapping survey launched last Friday 22 July from eastern Canada.

Sailing on the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Louis S St-Laurent, the team will map the seafloor across the North Atlantic between Halifax in Nova Scotia and Tromso in Norway till next Tuesday 2 August.

The marine science team led by Paola Travaglini of Fisheries and Oceans Canada's Hydrographic Service are using state-of-the-art deep-water multibeam sonar technology to survey the seabed and study the physical characteristics of the seafloor, as well as other oceanographic data such as temperature and salinity, to better understand little-known areas of the North Atlantic and build on the work done last summer.

These surveys support the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Co-operation, the goals of which are to join resources of its three signatories to better understand the North Atlantic, to promote sustainable management of its resources, and to promote citizens' understanding of the Atlantic through ocean literacy.

Participants in the survey include Fisheries and Oceans Canada's Hydrographic Service, the University of New Hampshire's Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping Joint Hydrographic Center, and the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Students and early-career scientists representing Canada and the United States sailing on board the CCGS Louis S St-Laurent are writing daily blog posts to chronicle the mission. The team comprises:

  • David Thornhill, Hydrographer, Fisheries and Oceans Canada Canadian Hydrographer Service
  • Danielle Roche, Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • Darren Hiltz, Hydrographer, Fisheries and Oceans Canada Canadian Hydrographer Service
  • Elizabeth Weindren, University of New Hampshire's Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping Joint Hydrographic Center Fisheries
  • Chris Hemmingway, National Director of UNCLOS, Fisheries and Oceans Canada Canadian Hydrographer Service
  • David Levy, Electrical Technician, Fisheries and Oceans Canada Canadian Hydrographer Service
  • Paola Travaglini, Hydrographer–In–Charge, Fisheries and Oceans Canada Canadian Hydrographer Service

Seabed mapping was one of the ocean research priorities and challenged discussed by the Marine Institute's CEO Dr Peter Heffernan with other heads of European marine science institutes in Ostend earlier this month, which followed a previous consultation that identified such mapping as crucial for managing human activities in our seas.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineScience - Marine Institute chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan was among the heads of European marine science institutes meeting with Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, at the European Marine Board offices in Ostend, Belgium yesterday (Friday 8 July) to discuss ocean research priorities and challenges.

The meeting with Commissioner Vella follows a previous consultation attended by Dr Heffernan in March, which identified ocean observation and seabed mapping as crucial for managing human activities in European seas and across the global ocean.

The European Marine Board said the latest meeting will advance the discussion on ocean observing and seabed mapping in Europe, set within a global context, by identifying critical gaps in our capability, investment needs and potential funding sources for the future.

“Ocean observation and seabed mapping are essential for managing human activities in the ocean," said Dr Heffernan. "With better observation and prediction capability, we can de-risk investment; we can have well informed licensing and regulation for sustainable economic developments; and we can protect ocean ecosystems and the essential services they provide, like food, medicine, and providing half of the oxygen we breathe.”

The Marine Institute CEO added: “Ireland has much to contribute to these consultations as we have significant seabed mapping expertise through INFOMAR, the national seabed mapping programme led by the Geological Survey of Ireland and the Marine Institute.

"And we are developing key ocean observation and marine research infrastructure in Ireland to advance our understanding of the ocean and to underpin innovation in the ocean."

Mapping, observing and predicting changes in the ocean were the focus of discussion at the Our Ocean Wealth conference in Galway last week, at which Ireland’s first ocean observatory was officially launched.

The meeting with Commissioner Vella in Ostend marks the second in a series and is an important platform for the ocean research community to communicate directly with the commissioner on ocean research issues.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineNotice - The latest Marine Notice from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) advises that V.Ships Ltd will be carrying out seabed mapping operations off the West Coast of Ireland.

The work started today (Saturday 2 April) and will last for approximately 14 days, weather permitting, carried out by the Survey Vessel John Lethbridge (Callsign H8PY).

The vessel, towing equipment including a sonar scanner, will display appropriate lights and markers and will be listening on VHF Channel 16 throughout the project.

Details of co-ordinates of the work area are included in Marine Notice No 13 of 2016, a PDF of which is available to read or download HERE.

Published in Marine Warning

#MarineScience - Three Transition Year students recently completed placements hosted by INFOMAR at the Marine Institute.

Jack Lillis, Aoife Muldoon and Emily Egan learned how seabed mapping can improve safety at sea, how it relates to the fishing industry, and how it can help the development of sectors like ocean energy.

Each student spent a week visiting the various Marine Institute facilities and learning about the different activities of the institute.

At the end of their experience, each created a 'story map' and PowerPoint presentation to show what they achieved during their placements.

"We really enjoyed our week at the Marine Institute and we now know a lot more about what a career in marine science really means," said Muldoon and Egan, from St Brigid's Vocational School in Loughrea. "It's a hugely interesting area of science that we don't learn about in school.

"We especially enjoyed our visit to the Celtic Explorer, seeing the multibeam system, learning about seabed mapping and how this information improves the admiralty charts so that vessels like the Celtic Explorer can safely visit ports. We also learnt about how seabed mapping relates to the fishing industry and helps sectors like ccean energy, this was of particular interest to us.

"We would like to thank Vera and all the Advanced Mapping Services and Marine Institute staff for teaching us so much about seabed mapping, fisheries, the laboratories and how all the different areas interlink. We now have a much better idea of what subjects to pick for the Leaving Cert."

Lillis, of Gort Community School, also had "a fantastic week, all the areas I worked in were really enjoyable. I was particularly interested with the laboratory work. Everybody knew what they were talking about and nobody shied away from any questions in fact they encouraged them. Everybody had something lined up for me to do so I was kept really busy, which was great.

"Overall I really enjoyed my week in the Marine Institute and I'm a glad I chose it for my first week of work experience. It was both a good way to see a working environment but also has encouraged me to pursue a career in marine related chemistry. Thanks so much to Tommy, Vera, the Advanced Mapping Services team and staff at the Marine Institute for taking time out of their busy day to facilitate me."


The Marine Institute will run its Transition Year course placements on a pilot basis at the end of April for up to 20 students.

Published in Marine Science

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