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Unmanned Miniature Lancer Sail Boat Heads Back Across the Atlantic

18th April 2017
Méabh Ní Ghionnáin from Droim, Leitir Móir, Galway met with the Marine Institute’s scientists and crew on the RV Celtic Explorer Méabh Ní Ghionnáin from Droim, Leitir Móir, Galway met with the Marine Institute’s scientists and crew on the RV Celtic Explorer

Méabh Ní Ghionnáin from Droim, Leitir Móir, Galway met with the Marine Institute’s scientists and crew on the RV Celtic Explorer today on her 9th birthday (18th April) to see the loading of the 1 ½ metre Lancer unmanned sailboat onto the research vessel, where it will be deployed into the middle of the Atlantic ocean during its transatlantic voyage to St John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.

As previously reported, nine months ago, in September 2016, Méabh found the Lancer boat washed ashore on her local beach after it had travelled across the Atlantic as part of a year-long research project that 18 year old Kaitlyn Dow from Connecticut, USA had undertaken. Kaitlyn had launched the boat from the USA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research ship called the Neil Armstrong off the coast of Cape Cod earlier in May 2016. The boat was fitted with a GPS tracker and she studied its movements across the north Atlantic.

The boat successfully crossed the Atlantic on its own following the winds and currents to Ireland, and was eventually washed ashore in the Conamara County Galway, where it was found by Méabh Ní Ghionnáin, a resident of Droim, Leitir Móir. The Lancer Boat has since been repaired by Ciaran Oliver and James Rattigan from Port of Galway Sea Scouts and it is now going to be relaunched from the Marine Institute’s research vessel RV Celtic Explorer on its voyage across the North Atlantic.

Dr Margret Rae, of the Marine Institute’s and the Manager of the Canadian-EU-USA Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance (AORA-CSA), explained that the crew will deploy the Lancer boat on the 22nd April from the RV Celtic Explorer during its nine day voyage. “We hope the unmanned Lancer boat will catch the Irminger current and take it northwards towards Greenland, or the Canary current and take it southwards towards Africa.” The Irminger Current is a north Atlantic ocean current setting westward off the southwest coast of Iceland and can be tracked using the GPS at:

“It is also likely that we will get to see more of the mini boats like the Lancer landing in Ireland over the coming year. The transatlantic funded programme AORA-CSA formed a partnership in 2016 with Dick Baldwin’s Educational Passages mini-sailboats in the USA, and together are running an Atlantic Mini-boat Regatta: ‘Around the Atlantic – Our Shared Resource’. The project aims to further promote ocean literacy recognising the importance of the ocean and how it has an impact on our daily lives,” said Dr Rae.

AORA-CSA aims to promote the understanding of the value of the Atlantic Ocean by promoting transatlantic international marine research cooperation – all stemming from the historic Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation signed in Galway, Ireland in 2013. “Stories like Meabh and Kaitlan’s is a wonderful example of both marine science literacy and citizen engagement with the oceans – themes which are a priority for the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance between Canada, the EU and USA. Seeing new friendships formed across the Atlantic at an early age highlights the value of international partnerships that are essential for sharing marine science” said Dr Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute.

With the Atlantic being the second largest ocean in the world, it is important to increase our awareness of the value, opportunities and societal benefits the ocean provides us," Dr Heffernan further said.The Atlantic Mini-boat Regatta is an exciting international demonstration of how results of ocean science and observation address pressing issues facing our citizens, the environment and the world and help to foster public understanding of the value of the Atlantic Ocean.

The research vessel RV Celtic Explorer is leaving from Galway on a transatlantic voyage to St John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador where it will be testing new equipment for multi-beam mapping of the seabed in the middle of the Atlantic as part of the transatlantic AORA-CSA project. On the Research Vessels voyage back to Galway the Marine Institute and NUIGalway will be leading a team of international scientists completing a month transatlantic ocean climate survey – GOSHIP (Global Oceans Ship-Based Hydrographic Investigations Program), learning more about climate change and its impact on the ocean.

The GO-SHIP involves the Marine Institute Ireland, with NUIGalway and research partners in UK, Germany, Canada and the US, and is another important example of the transatlantic collaboration promoted by the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance between the EU, Canada and the USA

Published in Marine Science

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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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