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Marine Science Students Complete Survey Onboard RV Celtic Voyager in Cork

20th November 2012
Marine Science Students Complete Survey Onboard RV Celtic Voyager in Cork

#marinescience – Students of marine science from National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG) and University College Cork (UCC) are designing and delivering their own survey onboard the RV Celtic Voyager in Cork this week as part of an accredited inter-institutional module in Multidisciplinary Offshore Operations in Marine Science, the first of its kind in Europe.

The unique module launched by the Strategic Marine Alliance for Research and Training (SMART) will provide undergraduate students with the detailed knowledge, skill sets and experience necessary to design, plan and execute a multidisciplinary marine scientific research survey. Dr Andy Wheeler, Head of Geology at UCC said: "This accredited sea going module will give participants a competitive edge in the International jobs market, as they get hands on experience working as a team to design and deliver their own survey onboard the national research vessel."

Based on a blended learning approach, teaching will be delivered using a combination of practical training onboard the national research vessel RV Celtic Voyager, classroom lectures, laboratory practical's and a suite of supporting online resources. The module was collaboratively designed and developed by experts from higher education institutes north and south of the border including Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, National University of Ireland Galway, University College Cork and the University of Ulster with funding provided by National Digital Learning Resource (NDLR) with grant-aided shiptime provided by the Marine Institute's Sea Change programme.

Dr. Pauhla McGrane, Coordinator of SMART said: "The inter-institutional effort to produce a common blended-learning module within the SMART consortium is directly attributable to a strong, cohesive marine science community in Ireland and the common desire to collaborate on innovative forms of teaching that will ultimately benefit and add value to the student learning experience.

Dr. Martin White, lecturer in the School of Natural Sciences, NUI Galway added "The successful development and delivery of this common module by Higher Education Institutes, in association with the Marine Institute, will further strengthen existing partnerships and will facilitate the development of further synergies across the marine sector."

Dr. Peter Heffernan, CEO Marine Institute added: "This new SMART module also makes a contribution towards the achievement of key actions in the Government's Integrated Marine Plan Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth. The plan identifies the need to maintain and build capacity (people) to meet the needs of the maritime sector e.g. through tailored education and training programmes. It is also an important step towards establishing Ireland as an international marine training destination."

The module introduces students to a multidisciplinary ecosystem approach to study the marine environment using the core disciplines of oceanography, benthic ecology, fisheries biology and geosciences. Teaching will focus on the practical, cross‐disciplinary skills involved in sample acquisition and processing, deployment and operation of equipment and instrumentation and data acquisition, processing and analysis of these data. Other elements essential in carrying out research surveys at sea will be examined, including safety at sea, survey design and planning, post‐survey analysis and assessment, vessel activities and capabilities, and vessel familiarisation and orientation.

Students will also be presented with an environmental impact assessment scenario which requires them to collaborate to design a baseline survey of their own and formulate a plan to execute it. Assessment will be based on the submission of a survey report which will include data analysis and interpretation.

See for more information on the programme and for the report Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth

The Strategic Marine Alliance for Research and Training (SMART is an inter-institutional marine science partnership programme designed to further develop national capacity for carrying out offshore research operations onboard research vessels for third level students of marine-related sciences.

Collaborating partners within the alliance represent key marine science departments from a broad spectrum of institutions. These include:

Cork Institute of Technology (CIT)

Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT)

Higher Education Authority (HEA)

Marine Institute (MI)

National Maritime College of Ireland(NMCI)

National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG)

University College Cork (UCC)

University of Ulster (UU)

Published in Marine Science Team

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Marine Science Perhaps it is the work of the Irish research vessel RV Celtic Explorer out in the Atlantic Ocean that best highlights the essential nature of marine research, development and sustainable management, through which Ireland is developing a strong and well-deserved reputation as an emerging centre of excellence. From Wavebob Ocean energy technology to aquaculture to weather buoys and oil exploration these pages document the work of Irish marine science and how Irish scientists have secured prominent roles in many European and international marine science bodies.


At A Glance – Ocean Facts

  • 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by the ocean
  • The ocean is responsible for the water cycle, which affects our weather
  • The ocean absorbs 30% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity
  • The real map of Ireland has a seabed territory ten times the size of its land area
  • The ocean is the support system of our planet.
  • Over half of the oxygen we breathe was produced in the ocean
  • The global market for seaweed is valued at approximately €5.4 billion
  • · Coral reefs are among the oldest ecosystems in the world — at 230 million years
  • 1.9 million people live within 5km of the coast in Ireland
  • Ocean waters hold nearly 20 million tons of gold. If we could mine all of the gold from the ocean, we would have enough to give every person on earth 9lbs of the precious metal!
  • Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world – Ireland is ranked 7th largest aquaculture producer in the EU
  • The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean in the world, covering 20% of the earth’s surface. Out of all the oceans, the Atlantic Ocean is the saltiest
  • The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world. It’s bigger than all the continents put together
  • Ireland is surrounded by some of the most productive fishing grounds in Europe, with Irish commercial fish landings worth around €200 million annually
  • 97% of the earth’s water is in the ocean
  • The ocean provides the greatest amount of the world’s protein consumed by humans
  • Plastic affects 700 species in the oceans from plankton to whales.
  • Only 10% of the oceans have been explored.
  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.
  • 12 humans have walked on the moon but only 3 humans have been to the deepest part of the ocean.

(Ref: Marine Institute)

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