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Marine scientists at the University of Corsica say they have mastered the reproduction of the giant limpet as part of a ten-year research programme on vulnerable species.

This could “pave the way for a large-scale ecological restoration” in the Mediterranean Sea, they suggest.

The giant limpet, Patella Ferruginea, is one of the Mediterranean’s most endangered marine species.

Engineers and scientists of at the University of Corsica’s Stella Mare research centre began working on hatchery-reared juveniles late last year.

“The first larval rearing experiments initiated in 2022 were successful,” they state.

“Indeed, the hatchery team managed to overcome the artificial reproduction of this species and obtained 72 juveniles. Those are currently on-grown inside the Corsican labs,” they say.

“To date, only two research teams in the world (led by the same scientist) have managed to obtain a few juveniles with very limited survival,” they say.

The main challenge involved collecting healthy and mature limpets able to spawn as the species has almost completely disappeared on the Mediterranean coast. Inducing spawning in captivity and feeding at the juvenile stage also proved complex, they say.

Giant limpets were once abundant on the Mediterranean centuries ago, but now only survive in a small number of areas on the Andalusian and north African coasts, as well as some “hotspots” in Corsica and Sardinia. The population has increased in Corsica, which suggests the island has a supply of “healthy spawners”, the scientists say.

The University of Corsica has issued a fundraising campaign for scientific research, and says an experimental restoration of giant limpet populations in the port of Bastia in northern Corsica will begin next year.

Published in Marine Science
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An Irish short film featuring communities who make a living from the sea is set to reach global audiences tonight (Tuesday, February 7th). Fair Seas: The Kingdom of Kerry has been selected for inclusion at the Festival of Ocean Films 2023 in Vancouver, Canada.

The festival returns after a two-year pause and celebrates people’s connection to the ocean. It aims to inspire conversation and conservation by featuring beautiful films from Canada and across the world.

The Festival of Ocean Films 2023 got underway at the Vancity Theatre, Vancouver last night and continues tonight.

Fair Seas: The Kingdom of Kerry is a 12-minute film exploring how changes to how local coasts and waters are protected would affect the people and communities nearby. It includes extensive footage of the southwest coast which was named Ireland’s first ‘Hope Spot’ by Mission Blue. The ‘Greater Skellig Coast’ now joins the Galápagos Islands, the Great Barrier Reef and parts of Antarctica as special places scientifically identified as critical to the health of the ocean.

Film producer Jack O’DonovanFilm producer Jack O’Donovan

The film was produced by Jack O’Donovan of Trá of Fair Seas - a coalition of Ireland’s leading environmental non-governmental organisations and networks working to build a movement of ocean stewardship across Ireland. The documentary was directed by Tasha Phillips of Swimming Head Productions with cinematography by Lawrence Eagling of Swimming Head Productions. The film was partly funded by the Irish Marine Institute.

The film hears diverse voices from across coastal communities, including a fisherman, an angler, an ecotourism operator, a biologist and a diver, who share their inextricable connection to the sea. It officially premiered in Kerry in October 2022.

Jack O'Donovan Trá, Communications Officer at Fair Seas: “It is such a privilege to travel around Ireland's coast meeting with communities that rely almost entirely on healthy seas. The aim of Fair Seas is to build a movement of ocean stewardship across Ireland and to ensure the Irish government meet their targets of protecting 30% of Irish waters with a network of well-managed Marine Protected Areas by 2030. What better way to tie these two aims together than to explore the lives of those communities whose everyday rituals ebb and flow with the tides and who will become the stewards of protected areas on their shores? Fair Seas: The Kingdom of Kerry is a film that shows passion, ambition, tradition and new hope among the people of Ireland to build a better, more sustainable future for generations to come. I am honoured to have had the opportunity to coordinate such a powerful statement of ocean optimism and am now delighted to see it appearing on the international stage.”

Fair Seas: The Kingdom of Kerry is one of several short films highlighting the ongoing and critically important conversation around sustainable fishing that will be shown this evening (February 7th). The screening will be followed by an expert panel discussion featuring Fair Seas Policy Officer Dr Donal Griffin.

Dr Griffin said, "This global recognition of Ireland and the importance of conserving our ocean is even more critical now as we finalise our own national Marine Protected Area legislation. At Fair Seas, we have been campaigning for the Government to designate a minimum of 30% of Irish waters as Marine Protected Areas by 2030 and it is fantastic to see progress beginning to be made. However, we have one chance to do this right and we owe it to the next generation to do this well."

The screening of Fair Seas - The Kingdom of Kerry begins at 6pm on February 7th at the VIFF Centre in downtown Vancouver. Global audiences can also tune in online. The panel will begin around 7pm, after the series of short films.

Published in Maritime TV

What do the Loch Ness monster, the El Nino effect and dead water at sea have in common?

All may be associated with internal waves, a phenomenon of wave motion in which Dr David Henry of the School of Mathematical Sciences, University College Cork (UCC) has expertise.

As Dr Henry explains in an interview with Wavelengths for Afloat, internal water waves, which are responsible for the “dead water” phenomenon observed by sailors at sea, play a fundamental role in any meaningful description of large-scale dynamics of the ocean.

He says that an improved understanding of their behaviour is “essential to developing our understanding of ocean circulation and ocean-atmosphere dynamics, which are in turn fundamental processes underlying climate dynamics”.

Dr David Henry of the School of Mathematical Sciences, University College CorkDr David Henry of the School of Mathematical Sciences, University College Cork

Internal waves have some particularly interesting, and quite unforeseen, impacts in both the real and “fictional” worlds, he says.

For instance, dolphins have been observed swimming ahead of a moving ship by “surfing” the internal waves that it generates, and it has also been suggested that internal wave-related activity might be one explanation for the Loch Ness monster in Scotland.

Henry recalls how internal waves may have influenced Australian submarine exposure to Turkish forces during the Gallipoli campaign of 1915 during the first world war.

Internal waves have been observed up to 50 metres high in the Celtic Sea, and in the Rockall Trough, the Malin Sea and Shelf, lying immediately north of Ireland, and to the east of the Rockall Trough, he says.

Internal waves have ”a major impact in biological considerations since they carry nutrients onto the continental shelf - 50% of shelf sea nutrients are estimated to arrive across the shelf-break boundary”, he adds.

They are also of interest to geological oceanographers because these waves produce sediment transport on ocean shelves, while breaking internal waves on sloping surfaces creates erosion.

The steady crash of waves pounding the shore draws vacationers to beaches across the world when temperatures climb. Driven by the wind and tides, these familiar waves ride across the top of the ocean. But deeper waves also move through ocean waters, visible only from their influence on ocean currents. These waves are internal waves, and they run through lowest layers of ocean water, never swelling the surface. Credit: Google Earth - March 6, 2007KMLThe steady crash of waves pounding the shore draws vacationers to beaches across the world when temperatures climb. Driven by the wind and tides, these familiar waves ride across the top of the ocean. But deeper waves also move through ocean waters, visible only from their influence on ocean currents. These waves are internal waves, and they run through lowest layers of ocean water, never swelling the surface. Credit: Google Earth - March 6, 2007KML

And they are of relevance to coastal engineers because of the tidal and residual currents that they generate, which can cause scour on near shore as well as offshore structures.

“In spite of their clear importance, several important theoretical gaps remain in our understanding of the ocean dynamics induced by internal water waves, and wave-current interactions,” Dr Henry says.

To advance this knowledge, Science Foundation Ireland has awarded €916,000 for a research project led by Dr Henry, in collaboration with Professor Rossen Ivanov, School of Mathematics and Statistics, TU Dublin.

Dr Henry spoke about this to Wavelengths below

Published in Wavelength Podcast

There is a huge amount of research being done in Irish waters. But are marine scientists getting their message across to the general public?

“We have to get into a space where we put the complexity aside and move to simplicity,” says Dr Paul Connolly, Chief Executive of the Marine Institute, the State research agency.

“Explain what we are doing very simply, why are we doing it, here are the outputs and here are the benefits of that output to policy, people and planet,” Paul Connolly said when I spoke to him for my podcast at the European Commission’s conference on restoring the oceans.

 The Marine Institute's new research vessel Tom Crean  The Marine Institute's new research vessel Tom Crean 

Scientists are busy with so many tasks that it is sometimes hard to keep abreast of all of it, as it is to be aware of the regular conferences where results are distilled. So I wondered if the message of what is being achieved from research is getting through to the public. His message, stressing simplicity in communication, impressed me.

Listen to the Podcast below.

Published in Tom MacSweeney
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The Marine Institute hosted a Postgraduate Scholarship Symposium on Wednesday, 30th November 2022, where the postgraduate students funded under the Cullen Scholarship Programme and Eoin Sweeney Scholarship Programme presented the progress and current findings of their marine research projects on a wide range of topics.

The Cullen Scholarship Programme is not only a valuable training and capacity-building measure, but research carried out by Cullen scholars adds value to the Marine Institute’s role in providing scientific and technical advice and services to support sustainable management of Ireland’s marine resources and a sustainable ocean economy. This combination of capacity build and knowledge generation will be especially important to support recovery in maritime sectors affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Eoin Sweeney Scholarship Programme aims to provide research training opportunities for scientists in oceanography, marine engineering and related marine science disciplines leading to the acquisition of a higher degree. Through the annual placement of the researchers at PLOCAN (Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands) the programme increases collaboration between Ireland and Spain through research undertaken using the test-bed and demonstration facilities in both countries.

A total of 41 scholarships with total grant aid of €3.9 million have been awarded for research under the Cullen Scholarship Programme from 2014 to 2021, with a further six Scholarships currently under contract negotiation following the 2022 funding call. Two scholarships were awarded under the Eoin Sweeney Scholarship Programme call in 2020. A list of students who presented at the Symposium is included below:


Higher Education Institute

Project Title

Catherine Jordan

University of Galway

Space based observations of marine phytoplankton

Aileen Kennedy

University of Galway

Fisheries Data Integration and Analytics

Amy Fitzpatrick

Munster Technological University, Cork

Next generation sequencing for Norovirus Genotypes

Elliot Murphy

University of Galway

Culture optimisation, and bioactivity of selected toxic Irish microalgae

Signe Martin

Atlantic Technological University, Galway

Evaluate the disease status of velvet crab, brown crab, lobster & shrimp

Colin Guilfoyle

Atlantic Technological University, Galway

Biodiversity conservation and restoration in the Wild Nephin Ballycroy National Park

Callum Sturrock

Atlantic Technological University, Galway

Biological changes in key commercially exploited fish in the light of Climate & Ocean Change

Grace McNicholas

Trinity College Dublin

Ecology of Irish tunas

Aideen Kearney

University of Galway

Enhancing farmed Atlantic salmon quality through new production technologies

Madhuri Angel Baxla

Atlantic Technological University, Galway

Machine learning assisted detection & prediction of climate change related anomalous events in complex marine systems

Ashly Kalayil Uthaman

Maynooth University

Seasonal to decadal sea level and ocean waves predictions through numerical modelling and statistical analysis

Anna Stroh

Atlantic Technological University, Galway

Improving fishing survey indices though the use of spatio-temporal models

Virginia Morejon

University College Dublin

Development of a Cumulative Effects Assessment Framework for Ireland’s Marine Planning Process

Bela Klimesova

Atlantic Technological University, Galway

Epidemiological investigations of the salmon louse Lepeophtheirus salmonis on Irish Atlantic salmon farms

Iain McLeod

Maynooth University

Wave-powered data buoy

Bríd O'Connor

University College Cork

The status of sensitive fish species within Irish waters and their vulnerability in relation to fishing and discarding practices

Patrick McLoughlin

Maynooth University

Recovering legacy tidal records to elucidate trends in sea level rise in Ireland

Nicolé Caputo

Atlantic Technological University, Galway

Development and Implementation of molecular assays for the routine detection of toxigenic and harmful phytoplankton species in Irish coastal waters and sediments

Felix Butschek

University College Cork

Celtic Sea acoustic data analytics for improved habitat mapping and ecosystem assessment

Published in Marine Science

President Michael D. Higgins was among the 160 guests at an event held in Cork Harbour on Friday to launch the European Union’s Mission to protect and restore ocean and inland waters in the Atlantic and Arctic regions by 2030. The National Maritime College of Ireland was the venue for the gathering which brought together Ministers and high-level representatives from Atlantic and Arctic countries, the Lord Mayors of Cork city and county and actors and stakeholders from government, academia, business and civil society.

The Mission to Restore our Ocean and Waters by 2030 is one of five such missions being funded and supported by the €97bn EU Horizon Europe Programme. But while research will be a key part of the mission, success will depend on action and buy-in from citizens, businesses and decision makers. According to Dr. John Bell, Director of Healthy Planet at the European Commission’s DG Research & Innovation directorate, which manages the Horizon Europe Programme, ‘we need to make peace with nature using all the means at our disposal using laws and programmes, science & innovation, and the will of the people to make things happen on the ground.”

The Mission is designed to deal with the severe threat to our ocean, coastal and inland waters that has been brought about by decades of pollution and human activity. At the Cork event, concrete measures and actions in the Atlantic-Arctic were highlighted to address the ambitious targets for the restoration of our ocean and seas by 2030, namely to:

  • Protect and restore marine and freshwater ecosystems and biodiversity, in line with the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030;
  • Prevent and eliminate pollution of our ocean, seas and waters, in line with the EU Action Plan Towards Zero Pollution for Air, Water and Soil;
  • Make the sustainable blue economy carbon-neutral and circular, in line with the proposed European Climate Law and the holistic vision enshrined in the Sustainable Blue Economy Strategy.
  • Broad public mobilisation and engagement and a digital ocean and water knowledge system, known as Digital Twin Ocean, are cross-cutting enabling actions that will support these objectives.

In hosting this event, Ireland is hoping to lead the way in advancing the goals of the mission. Step one is to sign the Mission Charter, a commitment of intent that can be signed by any entity, from a small company to a university, a city council or a public authority.

Speaking at the event, Dr Paul Connolly, Chief Executive of the Marine Institute, said, “the mission Charter has been signed by the Marine Institute and the Mission is strongly supported by our Government. As a public organisation, the Marine Institute is committed to protect and restore biodiversity, prevent and eliminate pollution in our oceans and make the blue economy circular and carbon-neutral.”

The event in Cork marks the start of an accelerating programme of activities across the Atlantic and Arctic bordering countries and Europe that will be critical to deliver a healthier and more productive ocean upon which our current and future societies will depend.

More from Tom MaCSweeny on the conference and an interview with the European Commission's Dr. John Bell

Published in Marine Science

The Marine Institute has published the report, New Connections IV - A Review of Irish Participation in EU Marine Research Projects 2014–2020. The report illustrates the success of the Irish marine research community in competitive European Union-funded programmes from 2014 to 2020.

Over the six-year period from 2014-2020, Irish organisations participated in 314 marine-focused collaborative projects resulting in over €158 million in total grant-aid. Horizon 2020 was the programme with the highest grant-aid of €91.5 million and the highest number of projects at 147 with Irish participation. A total of 84 Interreg V projects received grant-aid of €58 million.

Small and Medium Enterprises were the main recipient of this EU grant-aid, based on a number of participating organisations across the six programmes reviewed, followed by public bodies and Higher Education Institutes.

“This publication shows the breadth and scale of marine-related research, training and innovation being undertaken in Ireland,” Dr Paul Connolly, CEO of the Marine Institute, said. “For the next phase of EU funding instruments, we have a unique opportunity to evolve marine research capacity in Ireland, by collaborating and integrating international expertise, for example, through the Horizon Europe Framework Programme.”

Horizon Europe includes the five EU Missions which aim to address societal challenges, to connect with citizens and empower them as actors of change. One of the five Missions sets out to Restore our Ocean and Waters by 2030, which requires a new systemic and global approach. The UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021–2030) also offers a unique opportunity to engage with the global community in addressing the UN Sustainable Development agenda, and the potential of the ocean to contribute to this agenda is huge.

Dr Connolly added, “We are at an exciting moment in our relationship with the ocean. The decade ahead is crucial as we all pursue the vision of a healthy, clean, sustainable ocean that will allow future generations to thrive on our planet.”

The report New Connections IV complements its predecessors, New Connections I, II (2007– 2013) and III (2014–2016). New Connections IV includes projects funded under the following EU programmes: Horizon 2020, Interreg V, European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST), Erasmus+, LIFE and European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).

The report, New Connections IV, A Review of Irish Participation in EU Marine Research Projects 2014–2020, is available to download here

Published in Marine Science
Tagged under

You don’t want to run out of Marmite, butter or Guinness on board a yacht in a remote part of Greenland.

One piece of advice from a very elated Richard Darley, who sailed the 3,300 nautical mile trip by Danú of Galway to Greenland and back to the west coast with skipper Peter Owens.

A calm sea and a beautiful setting sun marked the yacht’s arrival at Parkmore pier on Thursday evening, with Kinvara musicians and many friends and family turning out to welcome the crew after a successful scientific, sailing and mountaineering expedition to the world’s largest and deepest fjord system in Greenland.

Among the welcoming party were Owens’ wife and accomplished sailor, Vera Quinlan, and the couple’s two children Ruairí and Lilian.

Peter Owens, his wife Vera Quinlan and two children, Lilian and Ruairí, along with family and friends celebrate the return of Danu at Parkmore Phone: Tony MaguirePeter Owens, his wife Vera Quinlan and two children, Lilian and Ruairí, along with family and friends celebrate the return of Danu at Parkmore Phone: Tony Maguire

The group of independent adventurers had recorded some new mountaineering achievements in the remote Scoresby Sound fjord system on Greenland’s eastern coast.

Kinvara musicians who play with Peter Owens, Danú of Galway skipper, welcoming the yacht at Parkmore pier Photo: Tony MaguireKinvara musicians who play with Peter Owens, Danú of Galway skipper, welcoming the yacht at Parkmore pier Photo: Tony Maguire

They also took daily sea and freshwater samples to assess the extent of microplastics spreading into Arctic waters and affecting marine life as part of a research project with Trinity College, Dublin’s Centre for the Environment.

“Mesmerising” was how Owens, a University of Galway scientist, described the experience in the remote Greenland fjord system.

He was speaking en route from the Aran island of Inis Mór where he and his crew spent Wednesday night.

Danú of Galway had left Kilrush, Co Clare, bound for Iceland and then Greenland, in late June with Owens, Darley and Paddy Griffin, also from Kinvara, on board.

They were joined on the Iceland-Greenland leg by Paul Murphy from Carran, Co Clare and Dublin mountaineer Sean Marnane.

The Scoresby Sound expedition aimed to be self-sufficient in the Arctic, with a strict policy of “leave no trace” on the environment.

Owens has paid tribute to his crew, family and friends for their support, and to the expedition sponsors - the Gino Watkins Arctic Club awards, the Ocean Cruising Club challenge grant and Mountaineering Ireland.

Wavelengths spoke to Owens, who had his violin out, and his fellow sailors, and to Vera Quinlan, who recalled how it was just over two years since the Owens-Quinlan family berthed Danú of Galway at Parkmore after their own Atlantic adventure.

Published in Wavelength Podcast

Irish yacht Danú which set off on a scientific, sailing and mountaineering expedition to the Arctic last month has reported a highly successful trip to the world’s largest and deepest fjord system, Scoresby Sound in east Greenland.

The group of independent adventurers on board the 13m (43ft) steel ketch led by NUI Galway scientist and mountaineer Peter Owens has now reached Iceland on its return passage south and departs for Ireland early next week, weather permitting.

The crew took daily sea and freshwater samples to assess the extent of microplastics in northern waters, and also collected information on new anchorages, which can be added to sailing guides.

Owens and crew members Paddy Griffin, both from Kinvara, Co Galway, and English sailor Richard Darley, experienced challenging weather during their passage north to Iceland from Kilrush, Co Clare.

Irish adventurers Paddy Griffin, Peter Owens and Richard Darley of Danú, bound for GreenlandIrish adventurers Paddy Griffin, Peter Owens and Richard Darley of Danú, bound for Greenland

Heavy Atlantic waves smashed one of the yacht’s windows en route, and they had to effect temporary repairs.

The crew had to fix Danú’s engine in Husavik on Iceland’s north coast, and then spent time analysing daily ice charts sent from England to plan their passage further north. Paul Murphy from Carran, Co Clare and Dublin mountaineer Sean Marnane joined the crew in Iceland.

“We took a chance and left for Turner island on the eastern coast of Greenland, which was very wild and remote,” Owens said.

“From there we headed for the settlement of Ittoqqortoormiit, formerly known as Scoresbysund or Sound, where we got a rifle in case we needed it for polar bears,”Owens said.

“Every day it was never above five degrees Celsius, though it didn’t snow, and when we sailed into Scoresby Sound there was fog and we saw what looked like a bank of cloud ahead of us - but in fact it was pack ice,” Owens said.

Eielson glacier in Rype Fjord (photo Paddy Griffin).jpgEielson glacier in Rype Fjord Photo: Paddy Griffin

Icelanders had told him several weeks before that it was one of their most unsettled summers in 30 years.

“We waited several days in Jameson Land, an eastern Greenland peninsula, for the ice to clear, we anchored in a very remote place, and we took another chance and sailed south, motoring along the edge of the ice – though for a while there was no lead, no openings, and a lot of running on engine only as there was very little wind,” he said.

“We had to go back, wait several more days, and then we found the whole system had changed, there was no ice and very large icebergs which came and went in Scoresby Sound,” Owens said.

“We spent the next few weeks in this area, visiting a series of remote anchorages and surveying each one around Milne land and Renland,” he said.

“We also took sea and freshwater samples for assessment of microplastics, in a research link up with Trinity College, Dublin’s Centre for the Environment,” he explained.

Owens and Sean Marnane tried three different areas for climbing, adding a new 10-pitch route above the Skillebugt fjord anchorage on the south coast of Renland. It often took hours of scrambling up scree rock to reach the base of routes, Owens said..

Danú then circumnavigated Milne Land, a large island within the fjord system. Owens and Marnane, who had the use of kayaks to gain access to the mountain routes, ascended to the summit of Hermelintop.

The 1172m-high peak, which offers a panoramic view of the confluence of three ice-choked fjord systems, involved ascending a spectacular and enormous gully that “went on for miles and terminated not far from the main summit”, Owens said.

Danú of Galway in  Romer Fjord, its first anchorage in Greenland (Photo Paddy Griffin).jpgDanú of Galway in Romer Fjord, its first anchorage in Greenland Photo: Paddy Griffin

The yacht was in its last bit of concentrated ice as it sailed around Milne Land. The ice was “constantly cracking, forming, changing and emitting big, loud bangs”, he said.

“It sounded like a rockfall in the Alps, so we would be climbing and would hear this loud bang, and I’d be waiting for something to fall on me – but it was just the icebergs,” Owens said.

“After that, we could see a weather window and thought it would be a good time to start heading back, so we returned to the Ittoqqortoormiit settlement to leave back the rifle – which we didn’t have to use,”he said.

“The pure expanse of the whole place was wonderful, and we could spend a lifetime exploring this region, but given the time we had, we are happy with the outcomes,” Owens said.

The crew “worked very well through the highs and lows of Arctic travel”, he said.

“We didn’t have a watermaker on boat, so we resupplied with freshwater from streams,” he said.

“We did see other boats occasionally, but if you found yourself in trouble, there was nobody physically living there to help and no emergency services,” he said.

“We didn’t get to wash for two-and-a-half weeks, and our first shower was in Ittoqqortoormiit,” he said.

“It took us two-and-a-half days to return from Scoresby Sound to Iceland, and two of our crew then flew home from Reyjkavik, as pre-arranged,” he said.

After another crew change, Danú is preparing to head further south to Ireland, and to Parkmore pier in Kinvara around the last week of August, weather permitting.

Owens is a mountaineer sailor with many years experience. He and his wife Vera Quinlan, and two children, Lilian and Ruairí spent 14 months sailing, climbing and hiking around the Atlantic several years ago.

The Scoresby Sound expedition aimed to be self-sufficient in the Arctic, with a strict policy of “leave no trace” on the environment,

Owens thanked the expedition sponsors, the Gino Watkins Arctic Club awards, the Ocean Cruising Club challenge grant and Mountaineering Ireland.

Danú of Galway in Skillebugt Fjord (photo Paddy Griffnin).jpgDanú of Galway in Skillebugt Fjord Photo: Paddy Griffin

Published in Marine Science

A UCC researcher has called for mandatory biosecurity measures to curtail the spread of invasive species through Ireland’s waterways.

As The Sunday Independent reports, post-doctoral researcher Dr Neil Coughlan warns the Corbicula clam could pose a serious threat to salmon and trout spawning beds in river systems.

The Corbicula clam is so clever that it resembles gravel on a river bed, and has the ability to reproduce without requiring a mate.

It can also interfere with power plant operation, drinking water abstraction and other industries using raw water.

Dr Coughlan, who has led a recently published study on the species in European waters, says that the vast majority of freshwaters on the island of Ireland are, unfortunately “suitable habitats” for the invasive species.

UCC researcher Dr  Neil Coughlan, invasive species expertUCC researcher Dr Neil Coughlan, invasive species expert

“Whereas zebra mussels, another invasive species, need a male and female, one single individual Corbicula clam can produce one long thread of clams which can spread from rivers overland, contaminating equipment,” Dr Coughlan explains.

It was first detected in the river Barrow in April, 2010. It has since spread to the river Nore, and has been discovered on the river Foyle and on the river Shannon where leisure craft can help its distribution.

Working with Queen’s University, Belfast, Coughlan’s UCC research examined invasive freshwater bivalves on the river Seine, upstream of Paris for a paper published in the journal Science of The Total Environment.

Improving biosecurity by thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting equipment – such as angling gear and boats - is the best way to prevent any further spread,” he says, as there has been no successful eradication programme in the world.

Biosecurity is required at some Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) events, but it is not mandatory in Ireland.

Since 2014, an EU regulation targets transportation, exchanging, keeping and releasing of “black-listed” invasive alien species, Dr Coughlan says.

Dr Coughlan says that although national campaigns such as “Check, Clean, Dry” promote best-practice biosecurity protocols, these techniques remain “underutilised, underfinanced, and data-deficient”.

He believes legislation is now required to underpin mandatory controls.

Read more in The Sunday Independent here

Published in Marine Science
Page 4 of 35

Marine Institute Research Vessel Tom Crean

Ireland’s new marine research vessel will be named the RV Tom Crean after the renowned County Kerry seaman and explorer who undertook three major groundbreaking expeditions to the Antarctic in the early years of the 20th Century which sought to increase scientific knowledge and to explore unreached areas of the world, at that time.

Ireland's new multi-purpose marine research vessel RV Tom Crean, was delivered in July 2022 and will be used by the Marine Institute and other State agencies and universities to undertake fisheries research, oceanographic and environmental research, seabed mapping surveys; as well as maintaining and deploying weather buoys, observational infrastructure and Remotely Operated Vehicles.

The RV Tom Crean will also enable the Marine Institute to continue to lead and support high-quality scientific surveys that contribute to Ireland's position as a leader in marine science. The research vessel is a modern, multipurpose, silent vessel (designed to meet the stringent criteria of the ICES 209 noise standard for fisheries research), capable of operating in the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The Tom Crean is able to go to sea for at least 21 days at a time and is designed to operate in harsh sea conditions.

RV Tom Crean Specification Overview

  • Length Overall: 52.8 m
  • Beam 14m
  • Draft 5.2M 


  • Main Propulsion Motor 2000 kw
  • Bow Thruster 780 kw
  • Tunnel thruster 400 kw


  • Endurance  21 Days
  • Range of 8,000 nautical miles
  • DP1 Dynamic Positioning
  • Capacity for 3 x 20ft Containers

Irish Marine Research activities

The new state-of-the-art multi-purpose marine research vessel will carry out a wide range of marine research activities, including vital fisheries, climate change-related research, seabed mapping and oceanography.

The new 52.8-metre modern research vessel, which will replace the 31-metre RV Celtic Voyager, has been commissioned with funding provided by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine approved by the Government of Ireland.

According to Aodhán FitzGerald, Research Vessel Manager of the MI, the RV Tom Crean will feature an articulated boom crane aft (6t@ 10m, 3T@ 15m), located on the aft-gantry. This will be largely used for loading science equipment and net and equipment handling offshore.

Mounted at the stern is a 10T A-frame aft which can articulate through 170 degrees which are for deploying and recovering large science equipment such as a remotely operated vehicle (ROV’s), towed sleds and for fishing operations.

In addition the fitting of an 8 Ton starboard side T Frame for deploying grabs and corers to 4000m which is the same depth applicable to when the vessel is heaving but is compensated by a CTD system consisting of a winch and frame during such operations.

The vessel will have the regulation MOB boat on a dedicated davit and the facility to carry a 6.5m Rigid Inflatable tender on the port side.

Also at the aft deck is where the 'Holland 1' Work class ROV and the University of Limericks 'Etain' sub-Atlantic ROV will be positioned. In addition up to 3 x 20’ (TEU) containers can be carried.

The newbuild has been engineered to endure increasing harsher conditions and the punishing weather systems encountered in the North-East Atlantic where deployments of RV Tom Crean on surveys spent up to 21 days duration.

In addition, RV Tom Crean will be able to operate in an ultra silent-mode, which is crucial to meet the stringent criteria of the ICES 209 noise standard for fisheries research purposes.

The classification of the newbuild as been appointed to Lloyds and below is a list of the main capabilities and duties to be tasked by RV Tom Crean:

  • Oceanographic surveys, incl. CTD water sampling
  • Fishery research operations
  • Acoustic research operations
  • Environmental research and sampling operation incl. coring
  • ROV and AUV/ASV Surveys
  • Buoy/Mooring operations