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'Our Shared Ocean' Builds Research Partnership Between Ireland and Grenada

22nd March 2024
Students at ATU - MSc students Shanlle Gilkes (left) & Adara Jaggernauth (second from right) in ATU with Dr. Deirdre Brophy (Project Supervisor & MFRC Leader) and & David O’Sullivan, Our Shared Ocean Programme Manager
Students at ATU - MSc students Shanlle Gilkes (left) & Adara Jaggernauth (second from right) in ATU with Dr. Deirdre Brophy (Project Supervisor & MFRC Leader) and & David O’Sullivan, Our Shared Ocean Programme Manager

The Our Shared Ocean funding programme, designed to build strategic research partnerships between Ireland and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) has enabled two scholars from the Caribbean island of Grenada to enroll in Atlantic Technological University (ATU) Galway to undertake an MSc in Applied Marine Conservation. These scholarships are part of a suite of competitive calls to support capacity building in eligible SIDS partner countries in Oceans and Climate Action, Inclusive and Sustainable Blue Economy and Marine Policy and Ocean Governance. The multi-annual collaboration, funded by Irish Aid and administered by the Marine Institute, will provide €3.8 million over the next five years to facilitate partnerships on ocean-related issues.

Grenada's current research capacity is constrained by relatively low numbers of researchers and the educational programs it can offer graduates. Our Shared Ocean funding strengthens the academic capacity of these young marine scientists to address socio-environmental challenges, identify sustainable development priorities, and increase resilience and adaptability. The scholars spent five months in ATU, within the Marine and Freshwater Research Centre, on taught modules including Data Analysis, GIS, Marine Population Assessments and Ecology and also completed a research trip on the RV Tom Crean before returning home.

Dr. Patricia Rosa, Director of Marine, Wildlife and Conservation Biology program, St. Georges University (SGU) commented, “St. George's University is immensely proud of our students, Adara Jaggernauth and Shanelle Naveena Gilkes, who exemplify the spirit of global partnership and academic excellence. Their Masters Scholarships symbolize the collaborative spirit between Ireland and Grenada and enable vital marine research which is expected to produce positive benefits for our marine ecosystems. Our Shared Ocean's emphasis on capacity building aligns perfectly with SGU's vision of fostering global leaders and we look forward to growing these important relationships with both ATU and the Marine Institute in the years to come.”

David O’Sullivan, Our Shared Ocean Programme Manager, remarked, “On behalf of Our Shared Ocean, Irish Aid and the Marine Institute, we were delighted to welcome Adara and Shanelle to Galway and help facilitate this fantastic partnership. Having met the students, and their mentors, it is clear there is a commitment to career progression with a focus on local and regional marine environmental issues within the Caribbean.”

Students in Grenada from  Left to right: Dr. Cristofre Martin (Chair, Department of Biology, Ecology and Conservation). Ms. Shanelle Gilkes (M.Sc. student), Dr. Paula Spiniello (Assistant Professor), Ms. Adara Jaggernauth (M.Sc student), Dr.  Patricia Rosa (Associate Professor) and Dr. Steven Nimrod (Assistant Professor)Students in Grenada from  Left to right: Dr. Cristofre Martin (Chair, Department of Biology, Ecology and Conservation). Ms. Shanelle Gilkes (M.Sc. student), Dr. Paula Spiniello (Assistant Professor), Ms. Adara Jaggernauth (M.Sc student), Dr.  Patricia Rosa (Associate Professor) and Dr. Steven Nimrod (Assistant Professor)

Now in their second semester, the students, based in Grenada, will complete a thesis on specific marine topics relevant to the island of Grenada and the Marine, Wildlife and Conservation Biology programme in St. Georges University. The projects will look at Sea Moss cultivation and fish biomass on coral reefs.

Ms Gilkes added, “ATU's MSc. Applied Marine Conservation is a practical, down-to-earth experience that broadened my understanding of, and deepened my passion, for marine conservation. This rewarding journey, with the help of Our Shared Ocean has brought significant opportunities and I look forward to applying these learnings to my own research in Grenada.”

It is hoped that this research partnership between the Atlantic Technological University and St. Georges will grow over the coming years and act as a template for how this initiative can benefit the global SIDS and encourage collaboration and knowledge transfer that addresses ocean health and sustainable marine governance issues.

Our Shared Ocean team has also announce the launch of a new low-carbon website, www.oursharedocean.ie, that features existing projects and provides application details and information on new calls, including for our upcoming Masters Scholarships in March 2024.

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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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