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Displaying items by tag: marine science

#Whaling - Japan is set to resume whaling for minke whales off Antarctica in the new year in spite of a ruling by the International Court of Justice banning such activity.

According to BBC News, Japan says it has taken the court's decision into consideration – and maintains that it will only resume whaling in the Southern Ocean for "scientific" purposes.

But Australia, which won its case against Japan at the International Court of Justice in 2014, has restated its opposition to the move, with the country's environment minister Greg Hunt saying: "We do not accept in any way, shape or form the concept of killing whales for so-called 'scientific research'."

As previously reported on, Irish marine research was cited by an expert panel at the International Whaling Committee that struck down Japan's 'scientific whaling' plan for lacking detail to determine how many minke whales would be hunted and for what exact purpose.

BBC News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#Fishing - Minister for Natural Resources Joe McHugh has announced a new collaborative research initiative involving Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) marine scientists and a number of former eel fishermen to further develop national knowledge of the species and its medium- to longer-term potential for recovery.

Based on management advice from IFI, the existing conservations measures in Ireland’s Eel Management Plan (EMP), agreed by the EU under EC Regulation 1100/2007, will remain in place up to mid-2018.

“IFI has submitted advice and recommendations on Ireland’s EMP in the period 2015-18. These recommendations are cognisant of the independent scientific recommendations from the Standing Scientific Committee on Eels (SSCE) which underline the risk in opening fisheries at this time," said Minister McHugh.

“I am anxious that a scientific fishery involving some of the stakeholders is undertaken for the next three years to increase data and knowledge ahead of further review and I have secured funding to start the research in 2016. This would facilitate a better informed decision on the outlook for the stock over the next few years and beyond and also the prospects for a return to commercial fishing activity.”

The minister also pointed out that IFI would examine the data derived from the new initiative annually and review recommendations on management measures if the research supported this.

While some river basin districts appeared to attain the escapement targets set in the EU regulation, the minister said regulation clearly required attainment of targets over the long term.

“Progress has been made since 2009 when the protection actions were introduced with some rivers basins showing encouraging signs, but we cannot undermine that progress by undoing key conservation measures because we have some green shoots.”

Minister McHugh also emphasised that he fully appreciates the demographics of the former fishermen and the difficulties experienced by them since 2009.

“I want to use the new scientific research to better explore the potential for short to medium term recovery of the fishery and prospects for fishing in the future," he said. "We have put in place measures to protect eel stocks but based on the research outcome I will be better placed to consider the longer term socio-economic impacts on fishermen and communities and what measures it may be possible to put in place for fishermen.”

The measures currently in place under Ireland’s EMP principally involve a cessation of the commercial eel fishery and closure of the market, and mitigation of the impact of hydropower installations.

As previously reported on, illegal trade in eels is a growing business, with hundreds of millions of young eels taken from France's Atlantic coast to China each year.

Published in Fishing
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#MarineScience - A live camera feed from the new 'ocean observatory' in Galway Bay is now online, providing a bounty of information for marine scientists.

The Marine Institute is hosting both live and archived data from the Atlantic Ocean cabled undersea observatory off Spiddal on its website, including data from sea temperature and salinity to the concentration of chlorophyll.

As previously reported on, the observatory comprises a range of sensors and monitoring equipment attached to the 4km subsea cable connecting the new Galway Bay Ocean Energy Test Site with the mainland.

The test site was in the news recently as computer giant Apple pledged €1 million to help ocean energy start-ups put their devices through their paces.

Click HERE the live feed and other data from the ocean observatory.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineScience - The Marine Institute is hosting a one-day event for marine researchers and SMEs looking at cross-cutting opportunities in Horizon 2020 and the Interreg Atlantic Area Programme.

The first part of the day, on Thursday 7 January 2016 from 9.30am to 5.30pm, comprises a half-day course delivered by Dr Seán McCarthy on how to write a competitive proposal for Horizon 2020.

The aim of this course is to train researchers, research managers and research support services in writing professional and competitive proposals for the 'blue growth' programme.

It will describe the relevance of Horizon 2020 to EU policies, and identify common problems in proposal writing and the success criteria for proposals.

The course provides tips on how to collect information, how to select strategic partners and how to avoid duplication in proposal writing. The final section describes a strategy for proposal writing.

Later, Michael O'Brien of the North & Western Regional Assembly will hold an information session on the Interreg Atlantic programme.

This programme area is rich in maritime heritage and marine resources and boasts a strong Atlantic cultural identity. The area is also challenged by ongoing deficits in innovation and SME competitiveness capacity as well as environmental threats including climate change and threats to the biodiversity of the Atlantic area.

The agreed Programme Priorities respond to these challenges and will furthermore exploit opportunities in niche areas such as green growth, renewable energies and eco-Innovation.

The eligible priorities for the 2014-2020 programme period are:

  • Stimulating innovation and competitiveness.
  • Fostering resource efficiency.
  • Strengthening the territory's resilience to risks of natural, climate and human origin.
  • Enhancing biodiversity and the natural and cultural assets.

In the afternoon there will be opportunities for one-on-one advisory meetings with national contact points. Meeting rooms will also be available for breakout sessions if required.

For more information on the day and how to attend, visit the Marine Institute website HERE.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineScience - The Marine Institute welcomed more than 300 Transition Year students during Science Week as part of the Galway Science & Technology Festival and the Sea for Society FP7 project.

The pupils met marine scientists and staff to learn about the wide variety of work they do, and how the science of the sea impacts on our daily lives, for example the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the water we drink.

Dr Paul Connolly, director of fisheries ecosystems and advisory services, gave an overview of the broad work programmes of the Marine Institute and the many benefits we derive from the ocean.

Students also saw a short video on the recently commissioned Galway Bay Ocean Observatory, which streams live data and video from the seabed off the coast of Spiddal.

Marine Institute chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan said: "We're delighted see so many students here and hope they'll be inspired by the people they meet and by work that we're doing here to understand our unique ocean resource.

"I'm sure we'll see some of them again as ocean explorers, marine biologists, oceanographers, or geographers mapping the seabed, or as engineers, developing novel marine renewable energy devices. I believe they will have many opportunities, particularly with a national and EU focus on the potential of the 'blue economy' with the Government plan Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth and the European Commission's Atlantic Strategy."

Vera Quinlan, of INFOMAR, the national seabed mapping programme by the Marine Institute and Geological Survey of Ireland, demonstrated her work mapping the seabed using the latest technology – and discovering mountains in the Atlantic ocean higher than Carrauntoohil.

Quinlan has developed Ireland's first augmented reality (AR) sandbox based on a concept first developed as part of a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded project led by the visualisation collaboration KeckCAVES at the University of California.

The visiting Transition Years were the first students to try out the AR sandbox, a scientific educational tool to help users to explore the importance of topography, contouring, geology and seabed mapping.

"We constructed the AR sandbox as part of the education and outreach program for INFOMAR and we believe that it will help share the story, the science, and the adventure that is INFOMAR," said Quinlan.

Fisheries scientists explained how they assess fish stocks so that we know the sustainable limits for fishing. Students learned about ocean acidification and had an opportunity to carry out experiments on pH levels.

They also learned about the science behind seafood safety, and met the scientists that make sure the Irish shellfish we eat are free from naturally occurring toxins.

AquaTT, lead Irish partner in the Sea for Society FP7 project, helped to promote the project and the Blue Society concept, highlighting that the ocean is home to millions of undiscovered species; provides us with food and transport as well as essential biological, mineral and energy resources; regulates our climate; and is at the heart of the water cycle, producing half of the oxygen we breathe.

In addition, students got to test-drive a mini submarine (ROV) with the help of the Research Vessel Operations team, and were introduced to a wide variety of marine career opportunities as well as maritime training opportunities by the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO).

The Marine Institute will be at the Galway Science & Technology Festival Exhibition this Sunday 22 November alongside Galway Atlantaquaria with the Explorers Education programme for primary schools.

Published in Marine Science

A team of scientists led by Dr Jens Carlsson, University College Dublin, onboard the national research vessel, RV Celtic Explorer discovered a field of carbonate chimneys supporting a range of deep-sea life during an expedition to research mud volcanoes in the Gulf of Cadiz.

The research cruise, Deep-Links, mapped the sea floor and used the Marine Institute’s Remotely Operated Vehicle ROV Holland I to gather biological, geological and chemical samples at chemosynthetic mud volcanoes in the Gulf of Cadiz. The team included researchers from the National University Ireland Galway, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, the Geological Survey of Ireland, National Oceanography Centre (UK), Duke University (USA), the Marine Geology and Resources/Geological Survey of Spain and the Georg-August University of Göttingen (Germany).

Dr Carlsson said, “One the most surprising finds on the cruise was the presence of large fields of fallen carbonate chimneys. At first we thought these chimneys where old wood or bones from a whale. But as we moved up the flank of the volcano we saw more and more toppled chimneys and when we got to the peak of the volcano we had standing chimneys all around us.”

The scientists named the location ‘Chimney Henge’, because of the circular arrangement of the chimneys resembling the famous Stonehenge Neolithic monument in England. “The background of these chimneys is fascinating as they are caused as a side effect of chemosynthetic microorganisms that build up these chimneys over thousands of years of activity,” said Dr Carlsson. The abundance of carbonate chimneys shows that there has been a long history of intense methane gas escape and mud eruptions supporting chemosynthetic life here for many thousands of years.

Mud volcanoes, while submerged, are similar to volcanoes on land, but instead of lava, they emit liquefied mud with methane and, the highly toxic, hydrogen sulphite. These volcanos have been found at depth down to 5000m can reach several hundreds of meters in height.

Despite the extreme environment, these volcanoes host life - life forms that are very different to the ones we are used to. Instead of using the energy from the sun, like plants do, life on a mud volcano is chemosynthetic. Dr Carlsson explains, “This means that rather than using sunlight for energy, chemosynthetic microorganisms feed on methane and the deadly toxic hydrogen sulphite, and if the sun were to go black, life at the mud volcano would go on. These microorganisms are then eaten by other animals like deep-water snails, shrimp and sea cucumbers among others. They in turn are eaten by other organisms including fish and crabs that might end up on our dinner table. However, some animals like mussels, clams and tubeworms even harbour these chemosynthetic microorganisms inside their bodies and get all the energy they need from this symbiotic relationship.”

The Deep-Links project aims to track where chemosynthetic energy goes. How much of this energy is picked up by animals like corals or sponges that live close to the chemosynthetic energy and in animals feeding on the shrimp, crabs or fish that live on the mud volcano? While we know that plenty of energy is produced in the chemosynthetic environment, we know much less about the animals that make this energy available to the larger environment – the Deep-Links.

The team aboard the RV Celtic Explorer deployed the ROV Holland I to survey three mud volcanoes, Hesperides, Anastasia and Gazul, in the Gulf of Cadiz. The ROV spent a considerable time on the sea floor at depths ranging from 1200 to 400m sending live video feeds back to the vessel and sampling the biology, geology and chemistry of the chemosynthetic ecosystems and animals living around them including samples of the mud to samples of the water column. The team returned to Galway with over 300 samples and 100 hours of ROV Video. The samples are now stored in the Marine Institute’s room sized freezer for a range of analyses including, chemistry, genetics and atomic composition of animals, sediments and water.

The Deep-Links expedition is supported by the Marine Institute, funded under the Marine Research Programme 2014-2020 by the Irish Government.

Published in Marine Science
Tagged under

#MarineScience - Apple's latest investment will mean more than a jobs boost as the technology giant has also committed to marine energy prototypes at Galway Bay's 'ocean observatory'.

Yesterday (Wednesday 11 November) Apple announced an expansion of its Cork campus to increase its staff by 1,000 by mid 2017, according to RTÉ News.

But hidden in the headlines was news that the company has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) to assist its grant recipients on marine research and development.

As renewable energy site reNews reports, Apple is providing a total of €1 million – €250,000 a year over four years starting in 2016 – to help ocean energy start-ups put their devices through their paces at the Galway Bay Ocean Energy Test Site.

Apple's vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives Lisa Jackson said the company is "excited by the potential of ocean energy to someday serve as a source of clean power for the data centre we are building in Athenry."

reNEWS has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Science

#Jobs - Applications close this coming Friday 13 November for a number of scientific management and research positions with the Marine Institute.

Those interested in various Scientific & Technical Officer roles – in Project Support, Ocean Modelling, Observing Systems (JERICO Next), Habitat Mapping and the 'Value Added' strand of the INFOMAR programme – have until 4pm this Friday to submit their applications.

Also closing on the same day are the positions of Hydrographic Data Processor (INFOMAR), Team Leader on infrastructure projects such as EMSODEV and FIXO3, and a vacancy for a post-doctorate researcher on creating knowledge for precision fisheries management.

Prospective applicants have a little longer for the vacancy in Administrative, Research & Project Support in the Stagaire programme (closing Wednesday 18 November) and the last available spots in the two-year full-time Masters of Commerce Scholarship in Strategic Marketing (closing Monday 30 November).

Published in Jobs

#BlueFutures - The Marine Institute's chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan is representing Ireland at a number of international events in Europe, USA and Canada where he has promoted the importance of the oceans in the planetary life support system.

“Ninety-seven per cent of the water on our planet resides in the ocean and everything we eat depends on it,” he told an EU conference at EXPO Milano titled ‘Strengthening global food and nutrition security through research and innovation’.

The EU’s objective at this conference was to provide an opportunity for a global debate on how science and innovation can help the EU play its role in ensuring safe, nutritious, sufficient and sustainable food across the world.

Dr Heffernan emphasised the critical role the ocean plays in the production of food. "The ocean affects every human life as it drives the water cycle supplying us with freshwater (via rain), moderates the weather and continuously influences the climate which in turn affects the production of our food on land,” he said.

“With our reliance on the ocean, it is important to include research efforts in better understanding the oceans vulnerabilities particularly those relating to adapting to climate and environmental changes.”

This message was further highlighted by Dr Heffernan when he also addressed the Ocean Innovation Canada 2015 conference in St John's, Newfoundland this week (26-29 October), where the event focused on the importance of ocean mapping for oil and gas, aquaculture, fisheries and marine industry.

With ongoing collaborations between the Marine Institute and the Memorial University Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research (CFER) in St John's, Ireland carried out the first transatlantic seabed mapping survey under the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance on the RV Celtic Explorer earlier this year.

“This was directly facilitated by the 2015 charter by CFER and we are very excited about opportunities to expand the scale and impact of the transect mapping with AORA partners in 2016,” said Dr Heffernan.

Meanwhile, at Transatlantic Science Week next week (4-6 November) in Boston, Massachusetts, Dr Heffernan will further emphasise the importance of undertaking research that will provide the basis for our understanding of the ocean and how it affects our daily lives.

This year’s theme – Blue Futures – will focus on the changes our oceans and their biological resources are undergoing as well as the effects and consequences of these processes.

A key focus will be on stewardship of the sea, oceans and human health and productive seas and coasts, which supports the directive of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation, the research alliance between the EU, Canada and the USA.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineScience - Marine scientists from four countries will set off from Galway tomorrow on a three-week expedition to explore the deep ocean off southern Spain.

As Galway Bay FM reports, the 13 experts will voyage on the RV Celtic Explorer to investigate the likes of "mud volcanoes, sponge gardens and cold-water corals" up to a mile below the surface.

It's only a few months after the same vessel took an international team to map undersea mountains on the Atlantic seabed off eastern Canada.

Published in Marine Science
Page 11 of 27

Marine Wildlife Around Ireland One of the greatest memories of any day spent boating around the Irish coast is an encounter with marine wildlife.  It's a thrill for young and old to witness seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales right there in their own habitat. As boaters fortunate enough to have experienced it will testify even spotting a distant dorsal fin can be the highlight of any day afloat.  Was that a porpoise? Was it a whale? No matter how brief the glimpse it's a privilege to share the seas with Irish marine wildlife.

Thanks to the location of our beautiful little island, perched in the North Atlantic Ocean there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe.

From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals this page documents the most interesting accounts of marine wildlife around our shores. We're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and youtube clips.

Boaters have a unique perspective and all those who go afloat, from inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing that what they encounter can be of real value to specialist organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) who compile a list of sightings and strandings. The IWDG knowledge base has increased over the past 21 years thanks in part at least to the observations of sailors, anglers, kayakers and boaters.

Thanks to the IWDG work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. Here's the current list: Atlantic white-sided dolphin, beluga whale, blue whale, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, Cuvier's beaked whale, false killer whale, fin whale, Gervais' beaked whale, harbour porpoise, humpback whale, killer whale, minke whale, northern bottlenose whale, northern right whale, pilot whale, pygmy sperm whale, Risso's dolphin, sei whale, Sowerby's beaked whale, sperm whale, striped dolphin, True's beaked whale and white-beaked dolphin.

But as impressive as the species list is the IWDG believe there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you are out on the ocean waves keep a sharp look out!

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