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Scientists & Students Voyage To 100m Contour To Study Ireland’s Top Marine Predators

1st August 2019
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RV Celtic Explorer at the Port of Cork before departure RV Celtic Explorer at the Port of Cork before departure Photo: IWDG

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.

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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)

At A Glance – Figaro Race

  • It starts in June or July from a French port.
  • The race is split into four stages varying from year to year, from the length of the French coast and making up a total of around 1,500 to 2,000 nautical miles (1,700 to 2,300 mi; 2,800 to 3,700 km) on average.
  • Over the years the race has lasted between 10 and 13 days at sea.
  • The competitor is alone in the boat, participation is mixed.
  • Since 1990, all boats are of one design.

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