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#MarineScience - An international team of scientists led by Prof Andy Wheeler of University College Cork have discovered a new habitat for coral in Irish waters – possibly doubling the amount of cold water corals previously thought to exist in the area – while on the Marine Institute's RV Celtic Explorer during the QuERCi survey.

While conducting research on Irish cold water coral reefs, Prof Wheeler investigated a submerged vertical cliff 800m below the sea surface and found it covered in coral.

"The seabed just falls away into a deep chasm. We couldn't wait to take a look down there, using the Holland I remotely-operated vehicle [or ROV] which is equipped with cameras and robotic sampling arms," he said.

Prof Wheeler and his team have been investigating Irish cold water coral reefs for over 15 years. In the deep, cold, dark Atlantic, these corals form reef habitats supporting a diverse and abundant ecosystem.

It was while mapping and inspecting some previously unconfirmed reefs on the edge of the Porcupine Bank Canyon, 300km offshore from Dingle, that the scientists decided to venture further into the canyon itself.

The ROV Holland I was manoeuvred from a 2,100m water depth in the middle of the canyon, up the canyon wall to the coral reefs clustered around the canyon top at 700m water depth. The bottom of the canyon was choked with organic-rich particles flushing down the canyon on the way to the abyssal plain.

"It was like flying the ROV through a snow blizzard," said Dr Chris McGonigle of Ulster University, "but we just pushed up the canyon and it got steeper and steeper and steeper until we faced this vertical cliff face several hundred metres high."

The cliff face, never seen by humans before, was covered in corals and other associated organisms.

"These near vertical habitats hardly feature on maps yet can be hundreds of metres high and extend for tens of kilometres. This is a massive habitat, barely explored, yet full of ocean life", said Dr Agostina Vertino of the University of Milan-Bicocca. "We found many species of coral, sponges, crabs and fish."

Prof Wheeler believes it is "not unfeasible that there is over 100sqkm of coral habitat that was previously unaccounted for."

The coral discovery site has already been designated a Special Area of Conservation due to coral reefs in the vicinity. Yet despite its protection, the international team lead by Prof Wheeler found snagged fishing gear and litter.

"It is a great shame, we are the first people to see this place yet despite of its remoteness there is still evidence of human impacts," he said.

The RV Celtic Explorer is Ireland's state-of-the-art research vessel and has been recently equipped with new seabed mapping sonars giving unprecedented views of the seabed. The ship is also the dive platform for the Holland I ROV.

"The quality of the data that this ship and ROV can now collect is phenomenal," said Dr McGonigle. "We were seeing details on the seabed that a few years ago we could only have dreamed of.

"This increase in data quality will allow us to develop a much greater understanding of the processes controlling the distribution of life in these unique environments."

Congratulating Prof Wheeler and the team on their discoveries, Mick Gillooly, director at the Marine Institute, said "we are delighted to see the recent upgrade of the Celtic Explorer and the ROV Holland's multibeam sonar suite producing such amazing results for this expedition.

"The high resolution images produced are fundamental in helping scientists with their research as well as helping us provide a better understanding our ocean."

Published in Marine Science

#UnderseaMountains - A multi-national team of ocean exploration experts from Europe, USA and Canada led by Thomas Furey, Marine Institute, has revealed previously uncharted features on the Atlantic seabed including mountains and ridges taller than Carrauntoohil, Ireland's highest mountain.

The survey onboard Ireland's national research vessel, the RV Celtic Explorer, is one of the first projects to be launched by the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance (as previously reported) formed following the signing of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation between Canada, the EU and the US in May 2013. Its goals are to join resources of its three signatories to better understand the North Atlantic Ocean and to promote the sustainable management of its resources.

The team from Marine Institute and Geological Survey of Ireland (INFOMAR-national seabed mapping programme), the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada, the United States' National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Portuguese Institute for Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA), used the latest multi-beam echo sounder
technology on the Celtic Explorer to create high resolution images of dramatic seabed features.

They uncovered 235km2 of iceberg scarred seabed, ancient glacial moraine features, and buried sediment channels on the Newfoundland and Labrador shelf. They charted a 15km long down-slope channel feature on the western Atlantic continental slope, most likely formed by meltwater run-off associated with ice cap grounding during the last glaciation, approximately 20,000 years ago. They crossed the dramatic Charlie-Gibbs Fracture Zone on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge creating a 3D visualisation of a 3.7km high underwater mountain. Continuing eastward a straight asymmetric ridge feature came to life standing proud from the flat seabed over 140km long, peaking at 1108m high, taller than Carrauntoohil.

The ambitious survey route included an area off Newfoundland and Labrador where cold water corals and sponges are known to occur and crossed the OSPAR designated Marine Protected Area in the dramatic topography of the central Atlantic. It also targeted the drop location for the first trans-Atlantic telecommunications cable laid in 1858 between Ireland and Newfoundland, and
set out to groundtruth seafloor features identified through satellite altimetry research in the last two years.

"This survey marks the beginning of an exciting Atlantic research mapping collaboration between the US, Canada and Europe. It shows what can be achieved when we pool our resources, sharing knowledge, infrastructure and technology. And we hope to build on this next year, when Ireland's R.V. Celtic Explorer will be joined by research vessels from Norway and the USA,
and in subsequent years", said Dr. Peter Heffernan, Marine Institute, Ireland.

"Seeing dramatic seabed features reveal themselves for the first time was a real highlight of the survey" said Tommy Furey, Chief Scientist, Marine Institute, Ireland. "We need to better understand the features that make up the ocean seabed. With global population and seafood demand spiralling, we need to map our seabed to define favourable habitats for fishing, key sites
for conservation, and safe navigation for shipping. Map it, manage it, and mind it."

The survey was part funded by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador which has invested approximately $5 million in RV Celtic Explorer expeditions since 2010 to support fisheries science activities. The vessel had just completed the annual fisheries survey in Newfoundland and Labrador, which provided the opportunity to embark on the trans-Atlantic mapping survey on
the return journey to Ireland.

Results from the Atlantic Transect will be presented at the Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth conference July 10-11th, 2015 in Cork, and at the Seabed Mapping Working Group meeting preceding the event on July 9th.

Published in Marine Science

#survey – Today, a multi-national team of European, Canadian, and American ocean mapping experts launch the first trans-Atlantic mapping survey under the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance.
The survey is one of the first projects to be launched by the Alliance, formed in May 2013 following the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation, whose goals are to join resources of its three signatories to better understand the North Atlantic Ocean and to promote the sustainable management of its resources.
Under this new era of cooperation on ocean research, Canada's Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland will use the Irish research vessel, RV Celtic Explorer, to map the seafloor between St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada and Galway, Ireland.
The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has invested approximately $5 million in RV Celtic Explorer expeditions since 2010 to support fisheries science activities. The vessel has just completed this year's fisheries survey and is returning to Ireland providing the additional opportunity for this trans-Atlantic mapping survey.
Together, with scientists from Ireland's national seabed mapping programme, INFOMAR, at the Marine Institute and Geological Survey of Ireland, and the United States' National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Portuguese Institute for Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA), the team will use multi-beam echo sounders onboard the vessel to collect ocean mapping data during the transect.
The team will gather information on the physical characteristics of the seafloor, such as water depth, hardness, roughness, and the presence of geohazards. The structure and composition of the near subsurface are key considerations for shipping safety, development-related seabed engineering and sustainable fisheries. The survey will broadly follow the great circle route between Ireland and Newfoundland where the first trans-Atlantic cable was deployed in 1857. The team hopes to map the location where the cable was dropped in the mid-Atlantic, which happened to coincide with the most dramatic topographic feature in the North Atlantic, the Charlie Gibbs Fracture Zone.
"The North Atlantic Ocean is crucial to the ecological, economic, and societal health and resilience of North America, Europe and the Arctic regions and the data we collect will be vital to understanding how we move forward together to ensure its sustainability," said Glenn Blackwood, vice-president, Memorial University (Marine Institute). "We are pleased to lend our ocean mapping expertise in this field and contribute in such a meaningful way for our shared benefit."
"We are happy to see Canadian federal, provincial and academic participation in the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance," said the Honourable Gail Shea, Canada's Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. "The contribution of so many Canadian scientific experts in this important international initiative demonstrates Canada's commitment to the Atlantic Ocean and the Galway Agreement."
"We are proud to be part of the first trilateral expedition under the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance," said Kathryn Sullivan, U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "By collaborating fully within this agreement, we will contribute essential scientific knowledge and ensure our shared Atlantic Ocean remains healthy and productive."
"This is an exciting opportunity to identify some important sites on the Atlantic seabed. It marks the beginning of an Atlantic research mapping collaboration between the US, Canada and Europe. We hope to build on next year in 2016 and subsequent years when Ireland's RV Celtic Explorer will be joined by research vessels from Norway and the USA", said Dr. Peter Heffernan, Marine Institute, Ireland.
Speaking at the announcement of the survey in Brussels in April 2015, Simon Coveney, Irish Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine, said, "Information from the sea-floor is vital to the sustainable management of the Atlantic as well as to important industries such as fisheries, aquaculture and tourism. Ireland has developed a world-leading reputation for sea-bed mapping and is also very committed to the implementation of the Galway Statement and so I am delighted Ireland's state-of the art research vessel-RV Celtic Explorer is the platform for the survey."
"The collaborative mapping of the Atlantic Ocean by Canada, the US and Europe is an important initiative which, as a provincial government, we are proud to support," said the Honourable Darin King, Minister of Business, Tourism, Culture and Rural Development. "This tangible initiative builds on the work my department has been undertaking to facilitate partnerships and economic opportunities between Newfoundland and Labrador and Ireland and on a broader scale between Canada, the US and Europe."

Planning for the survey began in December 2014 when the first seabed mapping event took place in Dublin, Ireland followed by a second meeting in February 2015 in Brussels, Belgium.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineScience - Following its issue by the Central Bank last year, the limited edition Silver Proof coin commemorating John Philip Holland, the Irish-born inventor of the modern submarine, was presented to Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Marine Minister Simon Coveney during their recent visit to the Marine Institute.

Highlighting the significance of Ireland's strong maritime history, Marine Institute CEO Dr Heffernan explained how this country "is at the cutting edge of international marine research driving ocean discovery and exploration.

"Supporting the Irish-led first transatlantic mapping survey from Newfoundland to Galway this coming month [June 2015], the Marine Institute's national research vessel RV Celtic Explorer will be using its extensive multibeam sonar equipment mapping parts of the Atlantic seabed."

Dr Heffrnan added: "The oceans are the life support system of our planet – producing half the oxygen we breathe; providing us with a wealth of resources including food, minerals and energy; as well as affecting our moderate climate in Ireland. It is essential that we continue to improve our understanding of how the ocean impacts our live."

By 2020, in partnership with the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance between the EU, Canada and USA which was established by the signing of the Galway Statement in 2013, Dr Heffernan says "we aim to be able to predict the major risks and changes in the dynamics of the Atlantic Ocean.

"Just as John Philip Holland set out to discover the depths of the sea over one hundred years ago, we continue this quest of discovery and innovation through advanced technology."

Published in Marine Science

#RoyalVisitsMarine - Today the Prince of Wales visited the Marine Institute in Oranmore, Co. Galway where he met Taoiseach Enda Kenny, and Minister Simon Coveney, and talked to Marine Institute staff about their work in areas including analysing the impact of climate change on the ocean, sustainable fisheries, marine bio-discovery and international collaboration on ocean research.

During the visit, His Royal Highness heard about the first trans-Atlantic mapping survey to take place under the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance between the EU, Canada and USA. The Irish-led survey will begin on 1st June when the RV Celtic Explorer sails from St John's Newfoundland to Galway.

Prince Charles welcomed the Galway Statement, which established the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance, as an important step in improving international co-operation in understanding the impact of climate change on the oceans.

Simon Coveney, Minster for Agriculture Food, the Marine & Defence said "The Marine Institute is at the cutting edge of international marine research, driving forward our understanding of the Atlantic Ocean. The work of the Institute drives ocean discovery and exploration. It also provides the basis for the sustainable development of our marine resources. I was delighted to be able to showcase the work taking place in Galway to Prince Charles, who has long had an interest in our understanding and governance of the Oceans."

How we observe and analyse the impacts of climate change on the oceans was of particular interest to His Royal Highness ahead of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris later this year. His Royal Highness was also very interested in the ecosystem approach to fisheries management and was joined by staff from His Royal Highness's International Sustainability Unit, a charity set up to facilitate consensus on how to resolve some of the key environmental challenges facing the world – such as food security, ecosystem resilience and the depletion of natural capital.

Dr. Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute, highlighted the interdependence between global ocean health and human health:

"The oceans are the life support system of our planet, producing half of all the oxygen we breathe, so it's essential that we map our seabed globally and improve our ocean observation and forecasting systems to better understand the impacts of climate change on our oceans."

His Royal Highness saw first-hand some of the technology used to explore and observe the ocean including an unmanned submarine, the ROV Holland I, with Galway Bay as a backdrop, where a subsea cable was laid last month connecting the Galway Bay Ocean Observatory to the shore.

Dr Heffernan said, "This technology will give us eyes and ears in the ocean for continuous monitoring of temperature and effects in the ocean. By 2020, in partnership with the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance, we aim to be able to predict the major risks and changes in the dynamics of the Atlantic Ocean, through a fully integrated Atlantic Ocean Observation System providing real time data-streams online by 2020."

The Prince also spoke to Dr Andrew Wheeler, from University College Cork, about leading the discovery of the Moytirra Vents, a previously uncharted field of hydrothermal vents on the mid-Atlantic ridge. The survey took place on the RV Celtic Explorer in 2011 using the ROV Holland I to explore the deep sea with a team of Irish and British scientists from University College Cork, the National Oceanography Centre and the University of Southampton in the UK.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineScience - A unique opportunity to participate in the North South Atlantic Training Transect (NoSoAT) summer school and carry out ocean research in the North and South Atlantic Ocean is being offered to graduates of marine-related sciences from across the island of Ireland.

Applications are invited for up to 10 fully funded scholarships on-board the German research vessel RV Polarstern, which will leave Germany for this summer school in November and transit 14,000km to Cape Town, South Africa.

Along the transect, students will collect samples and data to help to increase our understanding of ocean processes and which will feed into a range of exciting research projects.

The joint mission between the Strategic Marine Alliance for Research & Training (SMART), the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) and the Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO) will focus on training talented early-stage scientists in oceanographic research techniques and provide the skills and practical experience needed for a career in marine sciences.

Participants will get hands-on training in deployment and operation of scientific gear, acquisition and processing of the sample material and interpretation of the respective data. Work on board will also include lectures, data workshops, practical exercises and student presentations.

"Although over 70% of our planet is ocean there are lots of areas that are poorly observed and about which we have little knowledge," said Dr Pauhla McGrane, national coordinator of SMART Ireland.

"This collaborative effort with AWI and POGO will increase our understanding of the Atlantic Ocean as well as inspiring the marine scientists of tomorrow to sustainably mange our seas and oceans for future generations."

Prof Karen Wiltshire, vice-president of AWI and chair of POGO, added that "improving our knowledge of the ocean requires a new generation of well-trained researchers that are able to combine practical field work with modern methods like remote sensing or RNA sequencing.

"This pooled infrastructure and expertise provides an incredible chance for postgraduates to get the necessary practical experience and develop networking opportunities they need early in their careers.

"We are all delighted to be leading this strategic collaboration, which will promote mobility for a total number of 34 students from across Europe and Africa and increase multidisciplinary research capacity in Atlantic nations."

Graduates, postgraduates and post-doctoral students of marine-related sciences from across the island of Ireland are eligible to apply via SMART.

The closing date for applications is 7 June 2015. Applicants should make sure that they are available between 29 October and 2 December 2015 to account for pre- and post-cruise events and travel times. For further information on how to apply, visit the SMART website or contact [email protected]

Published in Marine Science

#lusitania – Minister of State with responsibility for Natural Resources at the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources, Joe McHugh T.D., and Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys T.D, today welcomed the publication of new state-of-the-art sonar imagery of the RMS Lusitania. Members of the INFOMAR (INtegrated Mapping FOr the Sustainable Development of Ireland's MARine Resource) team from the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) and the National Monuments Service of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht have recently produced and assessed this brand new sonar imagery of the wreck of the RMS Lusitania.

The current condition of the RMS Lusitania on the seafloor, 100-years after its sinking on May 7th 1915, is revealed in greater detail than ever before. The imagery provides a sense of the scale and history of the site, a tangible connection to the wreck and to the dramatic and tragic events that surrounded its sinking. The 240m long vessel is clearly defined on the sea floor, lying on its starboard side and standing over 14m high above the seabed.

Minister McHugh said that "The new imagery of the Lusitania provides the most detailed information and overview of the wreck site compiled to date and provides a solid framework upon which new research and analysis can be based".

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Ms Humphreys, added "It is fitting that these images are being in the centenary year of the sinking of the Lusitania. The imagery will provide important information on how the shipwreck has changed over the last 100 years."

This new survey data is extremely important from a site protection point of view. It will add to our knowledge and understanding of the wreck site on the seabed, its current condition and how the site has changed or degraded over the years. Additionally, the data, in tandem with previous information from individual divers to the site, will be very beneficial in developing our understanding of the physical processes at play at the wreck site and in the surrounding seabed and should help inform long term management strategies for protecting, investigating and conserving the wreck .

One hundred years on, the Lusitania is beginning to reveal its wounds, scars and perhaps its secrets, and may continue to do so for many years to come.

Published in Marine Science
Tagged under

#MarineScience - A subsea cable laid from the RV Celtic Explorer in Galway Bay this week marks a major milestone in the development of Ireland's national marine research and development infrastructure.

The four-kilometre cable and a frame to which sensors and monitoring equipment will be attached are part of the development of an ocean observatory in Galway Bay connecting the Galway Bay Ocean Energy Test Site to the shore at Spiddal, Co Galway.

The cable will supply power to the site and allow unlimited data transfer from the site for researchers testing innovative marine technology including renewable ocean energy devices.

The Marine Institute and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) have been working together to promote and develop Ireland's ocean energy potential, and this project – with partners SmartBay Ltd, UCC (MarEI - Marine Renewable Energy Ireland), and Dublin City University – is part of a programme to enhance the Galway Bay Ocean Energy Test Site.

A suite of sensors and environmental monitoring equipment will be installed on the cable end frame this summer, as well a floating 'sea station' which will give developers real-time data on how their devices are performing in the ocean.

"Ireland's sea area is around 10 times the size of our land area and with one of the best offshore renewable energy resources in the world, the opportunities to harness the power of the ocean are immense," says Marine Minister Simon Coveney.

"The new facilities at the Galway Bay Ocean Energy Test site will attract companies and researchers developing marine technology and renewable ocean energy equipment, and will position Ireland at the forefront of these emerging sectors by developing an expert indigenous supply chain that will expand as these sectors grow.

"The ocean observatory will also enhance our ability to monitor the ocean and better understand how it works, which is critical to tackling issues such as climate change."

Energy Minister Alex White adds that "offshore renewable energy has the potential to be a major component of Ireland's future energy mix and it is vital that we facilitate developments like this one in Galway Bay.

"Over time, the introduction of ocean energy into Ireland's renewables portfolio will enhance the security of Ireland's energy supply, deliver green growth, and add to the 47,000 jobs already supported by our energy sector.

"Government support for ocean research, development and demonstration has been increasing with €16.8 million added to my department's multi-annual ocean energy development budget between 2013 and 2016, bringing the total cumulative funding to over €26 million."

Instrument nodes and sensor packages to be installed at the Galway Bay Ocean Energy Test Site this summer will contribute to marine sectors including environmental monitoring, shipping, maritime security and education.

Extensive historical wave and weather data is also available for this site since 2008 and is available to potential device developers.

The new research infrastructure is expected to position Galway Bay as a unique world-class ocean energy test site.

The addition of a cabled ocean observatory means Ireland will also play an important role in the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance between Europe, the USA and Canada under the Galway Statement signed at the Marine Institute Galway in May 2013 – and under which the RV Celtic Explorer will undertake the first transatlantic mapping survey between Galway and Newfoundland this coming June.

The cable project is funded in part by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) under its Research Infrastructure Call 2012 which contributed €2.2m to the project. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine contributed an additional €600,000 to the project in 2014. The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources will fund additional infrastructure and the ongoing operations of the Galway Bay test site through the SEAI Ocean Energy Programme.


More information on the project will be available at www.marine.ie and www.oceanenergyireland.com.

Published in Marine Science

#mapping – The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD today joined with Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, and Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries in Brussels, along with Canada's Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Gail Shea, to announce the first trans-Atlantic mapping survey to take place under the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance.

The Irish research vessel, RV Celtic Explorer will undertake a mapping expedition between St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada and Galway in Ireland in June of this year, as scientists from the Marine Institute, Ireland will be joined by a multi-national team made up of USA, Canadian and European ocean mapping experts. This is an important step following the agreement reached at Galway in May 2013 and is an example of scientific diplomacy in action.

Speaking from Brussels, Minister Coveney said "Information from the sea-floor is vital to the sustainable management of the Atlantic as well as to important industries such as fisheries, aquaculture and tourism. Ireland has developed a world-leading reputation for sea-bed mapping and is also very committed to the implementation of the Galway Statement and so I am delighted to put at the disposal of the team, Ireland' state-of the art research vessel-RV Celtic Explorer."

Commissioner Moedas stated "I am committed to harnessing the societal and economic value of our oceans, while protecting fragile marine ecosystems. Under Horizon 2020 we have invested just under €70 million to support the Galway Statement follow-up. The first calls delivered excellent project proposals involving international teams. I am glad that this investment is being leveraged to make our transatlantic vision a reality."

Commissioner Vella welcomed the announcement, stating. "One of the priorities of my mandate is Ocean Governance. Our wish is that the EU continues to be fully engaged on this subject. The sea-bed mapping expedition announced today illustrates the EU's capacity as a global leader and partner. The 'Celtic Explorer's' mission across the north Atlantic will be undertaken by crew from 'both sides of the pond'. This embodies the spirit of cooperation that we need in the field of Ocean Governance. Their work will help inform the mapping of the European seabed, which is set to be completed by 2020. I congratulate all those involved".

Welcoming the initiative, the Honourable Gail Shea, Canada's Minister of Fisheries and Oceans said "Canada recognizes the importance and complexity of Atlantic Ocean science. Our nations' cooperation is key to broadening our scientific understanding of the Atlantic Ocean and helping to ensure it remains healthy, resilient and productive. This is why our scientists are collaborating through the Galway Statement to pool resources, share expertise and advance our science goals."

The announcement was made at the European Commission hosted event, 'The Atlantic- Our Shared resource. Making the Vision Reality' which was a follow up to the May 2013 signing of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Research Cooperation between the EU, Canada and the United States of America.

This event is the launch pad for all the Galway Statement follow-up projects funded with the first Horizon 2020 Blue Growth calls - the main financial instrument on the EU side implementing the Galway Statement commitments.

With a view to translating commitments into investments, the European Commission has earmarked around € 70 million in calls under Horizon 2020, the EU Research and Innovation Programme for the period 2014-2015.

Background:
The Galway Statement – The Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance
In May 2013, an Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance between Canada, the European Union and the United States of America was launched in Galway, Ireland, with the high level signature of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation.
The goals are to join forces to better understand the North Atlantic Ocean and to promote the sustainable management of its resources. Together we can build a capacity to understand and predict major Atlantic and Arctic processes, as well as the changes and risks they carry in relation to human activities and climate change.

The Galway Statement contributes to the implementation of the EU's Atlantic Strategy and its related Atlantic Action Plan. The Action Plan considers responses to the challenges of delivering growth, reducing the carbon footprint, using the sea's natural resources sustainably, responding effectively to threats and emergencies and implementing an "ecosystem" management approach in Atlantic waters.

The lead on the side of the Commission for the Ocean Research Alliance lies with DG RTD – the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, in close coordination with DG MARE -the Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, which leads on the overall Atlantic Strategy.
Areas identified for cooperation under the agreement include:
· Ocean Stressors (e.g. ocean acidification)

· Aquaculture

· Interoperability and coordination of observing systems and infrastructures, including vessels

· Seabed and benthic habitat mapping

· Marine Microbial Ecology and

· Ocean Literacy

A series of regular Stakeholder Meetings to operationalise the Galway Statement started in Brussels in April and June 2014 with high level participation from Europe, US and Canada, bringing together a variety of existing networks already active on both sides of the Atlantic. Other Stakeholder Meetings were organised in 2014 in Washington D.C. and Ottawa. In December 2014 the first seabed mapping event took place in Dublin (Ireland), which was followed by another meeting in February 2015 in Brussels.

The Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance has been recognised as an example of how we can join efforts in research and innovation in the Joint Statement of the EU-US Summit on 26 March 2014, during President Obama's visit to Brussels. Also, the importance of this initiative was acknowledged in the EU-Canada Summit Declaration from September 2014, as a contribution to the strategic partnership in the field of research and innovation.
Since the signature of the Galway Statement, the expansion of this cooperation to the Southern part of the Atlantic, particularly towards Brazil and South Africa, has been evoked regularly. Brazilian and South African partners have been invited to several Atlantic Ocean Alliance events.

The event "The Atlantic – our Shared Resource: Making the Vision Reality" to launch research projects which constitute a clear follow-up of the Galway Statement and which were selected under the first Blue Growth call for proposals of Horizon 2020, takes place on 16-17 April 2015 in Brussels. Representatives from Brazil and South Africa are partners in some projects and will join representatives from Europe, the US and Canada in order to celebrate the translation of the political commitments taken in Galway into real investments which will boost the Atlantic Ocean Research Cooperation initiative.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineWildlife - How do whales, dolphins and porpoises hunt for fish? By using 'sound searchlights', according to Danish marine researchers.

As BBC News reports, the team of marine scientists at Aarhus University used underwater microphones to study the hunting behaviour of porpoises.

And they sound that the nimble cetaceans were able to adjust their echolocation abilities – using clicks and buzzes to navigate their surroundings – by switching from a narrow focus to a wide beam of sound as they closed in on their prey.

Scientists believe that other species of dolphins and whales also share this "exceptional" ability – which could provide the key to solutions that would prevent them getting trapped in commercial fishing gear.

BBC News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
Page 13 of 28

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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