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New antibiotics in the world’s oceans and the curative properties of marine animals like sponges will be explored in a European project involving researchers at University College Cork (UCC).

The EU has awarded a total of €7.5 million under its Horizon 2020 programme to the research into the largely unknown potential of the world’s oceans in protecting people, animals and crops from disease.

The Marine Biodiversity as Sustainable Resource of Disease-Suppressive Microbes and Bioprotectants for Aquaculture and Crop Diseases project, as it is officially known, has been given the name “Marbles”.

The research team will look specifically for new antibiotics and anti-fungals as well as microbes that can serve as “bio-protectants” in agriculture and aquaculture.

Synthetic chemicals currently used in pharmaceutical, agriculture and aquaculture have a devastating impact on marine life and this research is looking for sustainable solutions, according to the UCC research team.

The project will assess the potential of microorganisms derived from marine sponges, microalgae and fish for disease suppression.

They explain that “disease-suppressive” microorganisms will be drawn from "microbiomes", the complex collection of microorganisms that live in and around their marine hosts.

The world’s growing population and the current climate and biodiversity crises are driving the need to harness new compounds with pharmaceutical and nutritional applications sustainably, the UCC team says.

Prof Alan Dobson and Dr David Clarke from the UCC School of Microbiology and the Environmental Research Institute said that they were particularly excited about collaborating with the other 13 European partners from both academia and industry.

One project they hope to focus on involves isolating and genetically characterising disease suppressive microorganisms from the microbiome of Atlantic salmon.

These may then be generated into cocktails of microbial consortia, which could then be used either within fish feed as probiotics, or applied externally to boost the skin’s immune response in the salmon, they state.

This will improve disease control and overall fish health, and should decrease the dependency of using antibiotics in fish aquaculture systems while also reducing the potential spread of antimicrobial resistance in aquatic ecosystems, they state.

Published in Marine Science

The use of drones could play a key role in sustainable coastal fisheries in Ireland, according to a new study.

As the Irish Examiner reports, researchers at University College Cork (UCC) evaluated a wide range of applications for drones on the Irish coast, and highlighted a number of potential important uses.

These run from monitoring illegal fishing activity to studying pollution, surveying areas at risk of erosion or even identifying new viruses transmitting among marine wildlife — as well as supporting some of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Drone patrols have already been cited as more important than ever for the protection of Ireland’s inland fisheries following an increase in illegal fishing and angling activities recorded last year, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

“The speed of development in drone technology means it can be difficult for many people to appreciate its current potential,” UCC’s Dr Samuel Hayes said.

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes
Tagged under

University College Cork (UCC) says it is providing support to its staff who were passengers on the aircraft that was forced to make an emergency landing at Carne beach in Co Wexford on Thursday.

The staff were conducting marine life surveys in Irish offshore waters as part of the ObSERVE II project, UCC has confirmed.

An Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) inquiry has been initiated into the light aircraft crash which occurred at about 5.10 pm on September 23rd.

The €4.5 million ObSERVE programme has been conducting aerial surveys of almost 500,000km2 of Ireland’s maritime area.

It is being funded by several Government departments as part of planning for offshore renewable and other marine activities which could have an impact on sensitive marine ecosystems.

The UCC team is led by Dr Mark Jessopp and Professor Emer Rogan from the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, with partners from Action Air, France, Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands and Duke University in the US.

The four occupants of the aircraft - two men aged in their 20s and 50s and two women both aged in their 30s - sustained non life-threatening injuries in the incident.

The wreckage of the French-registered Vulcanair P68 twin-engined, four-seater aircraft has been recovered by the AAIU for delivery to Gormanston, Co Meath for a full examination.

AAIU chief Jurgen Whyte told RTÉ News that it was not yet clear if it was an engine problem or control issue that led to the emergency landing, and also credited the pilot for his successful manoeuvre.

The pilot had issued a “Mayday” after it got into trouble off the Wexford coast, and had to transit a nearby wind farm to approach the beach.

The sudden “deceleration” in approaching the beach would have resulted in injury, Whyte explained.

An eye witness, Niall Hore, has told the Padraig Byrne of The Wexford People that the four occupants were very fortunate and paid tribute to the pilot.

Hore, who had gone to Carne beach for some sea angling, said he and several Northern Irish anglers witnessed the incident.

“We ran down and two people were out of the plane and were shouting for us to call 112. The two people in the back of the plane were able to get out and had dragged out the pilot and co-pilot and they were propped up against the plane,” Hore said.

"The plane was very bent up at the front and I knew that the pilots’ legs must have been in a bad way,” he said.

“We just tried to keep them talking to make sure they were OK. We asked them where they came from and they said they took off from Waterford and that they were on their last run doing marine surveys in the area,” he said.

"One of the women was pretty bad and was covered in blood and not saying much, so we tried to talk to her to make sure she was OK. As it turned out, one of the crew was from Northern Ireland and was from the same area as the two other fishermen who were on the beach, he added.

“He did very well to get it down just at the shore,” Niall Hore said.

“I’m just glad he didn’t land further out in the water because the current is unreal there and it would have been very hard to get to them. It definitely wasn’t an easy thing for him to do. I’m just really glad that everyone is going to be alright, “he said.

Read more in The Wexford People here

Published in Marine Wildlife
Tagged under

#Rowing: Hugh Sutton of UCC Rowing Club was the overall winner of the 48th Cork Sculling Ladder time trial, which was run on calm water and on an outgoing tide at the Marina on the River Lee on Sunday. Sutton covered the 1800 metres in seven minutes and 3.4 seconds. Jessica Legresley of Shandon Boat Club won the women’s trial in 7:57.5.

 Two previous winners of the the ladder, Jack Dorney and Andy Harrington, set a time of 6:42.1 as they won the first coxless pairs time trial. Amy Mason and Grace Collins won the the women’s pairs time trial in 7:36.1.

 The event, which was sponsored by Argos Fire, had a big entry. The oldest competitor on the day was 83-year-old Seamus Quane of Shandon Boat Club.

 The sculling and coxless pairs ladders continue with two-boat racing until March 2020.     

Published in Rowing

Marine scientists from University College Cork have discovered plastic at the bottom of a deep submarine canyon while investigating cold-water coral habitats.

UCC’s Marine Geology Research Group has been investigating cold-water coral habitats in the Porcupine Bank Canyon, some 320km due west of Dingle, on a research expedition led by UCC’s Dr Aaron Lim on board the Marine Institute’s RV Celtic Explorer.

The team had recovered eight novel monitoring stations, called ‘landers’, worth €450,000 and deployed between 700m and 2500m water depth by the Marine Institute’s Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Holland 1 earlier this summer.

The monitoring stations record the speed, temperatures and direction of the currents around these habitats as well as trapping samples of the food, sediments and microplastic being deposited around the corals, to understand conditions and how the corals are coping with changing oceans.

The researchers found plastic in the bottom of one canyon at 2,125m water depth — as deep as ten Eiffel Towers stacked on top of one another.

The reach of human plastic waste is now confirmed as this deep, even 320km offshore.

“It’s always sad to see plastic rubbish in these otherwise pristine habitats. It’s quite incredible that our plastic waste can get this far out and so deep in the oceans,” said Professor Andy Wheeler of UCC, who has pioneered research on cold-water coral mounds offshore of Ireland over the past 20 years.

“I don’t think people think about this when that dump their rubbish. We’re also trying to see if microplastics are being fed to the corals from above. We’ve just got the samples; let’s hope we're wrong.”

“ROVROV Holland 1 recovering one of the monitoring stations | Photo: UCC

The Porcupine Bank Canyon is teeming with a whole range of cold-water coral habitats, just on Ireland’s doorstep, says Dr Lim.

“The environment is much more dynamic than we thought, with two of the monitoring stations knocked over by the currents; food supply for the coral is variable but the corals are doing okay.

“Some of these habitats have existed for millions of years and have grown so large they resemble hills made of coral, called coral mounds.

“This is the first time eight of these monitoring stations have been deployed and collected using the ROV Holland 1. It will provide scientists with an insight into the processes affecting these cold-water coral habitats, food sources and the impact of microplastics.”

Dr Lim said Ireland’s cold-water coral reefs are found in the cold, dark ocean at water depths of 600m to 1,000m along our continental margin.

“Not only is this expedition vital for understanding these habitats and our impact upon them, it also acts as a baseline to start monitoring how our deep-water habitats here are changing,” he added.

The team has a research agenda which will see them return to the canyon and other habitats alike for a number of years, to monitor the changes in the environment around these habitats. The monitoring stations will be brought back to UCC for detailed analyses.

This research survey is carried out with the support of the Marine Institute, funded under the Marine Research Programme 2014-2020 by the Government to support and promote the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance, which facilitates common research and knowledge exchange for us to provide healthy, resilient oceans for our future generations.

The survey has also received funding from Science Foundation Ireland, Geological Survey Ireland and UCC.

Published in Marine Science

#Rowing: Cork clubs had a set of good results in the first session of Sunday finals at the Irish Rowing Championships at the National Rowing Centre.

Cork Boat Club's junior women's pair started the ball rolling, while Skibbereen then took their second title of Championships as Aodhan Burns proved a strong winner of the lightweight single sculls.

Margaret Cremen of UCC had a huge win in the lightweight single sculls, and Lee added the junior men's double to the junior quadruple title they had won on Saturday.

The tighest finish came in the men's club coxed four. NUIG made a tremendous effort to catch St Michael's of Limerick but they fell short by just .329 of a second.

Commercial of Dublin and Fermanagh's Enniskillen Royal Boat Club are having a good reatta. Enniskillen won the men's intermediate pair, while Commercial won the womens intermediate coxed four.

Published in Rowing

#Rowing: Seven different clubs won in the second session of finals on the second day of the Irish Championships. The races were run in hot sunshine.

Two women's finals senior finals were won in emphatic fashion. Georgia O'Brien of Kenmare won in the women's senior single sculls to give the club its second Championship. NUIG were also well in control in their victory in the women's senior pair.

Sadhbh Scully of Carlow, who is a junior, followed the trend in her big win in the women's club single sculls.

The women's junior 18 eights was a tighter affair, though Bann, once in the lead, held on strongly to rebuff Enniskillen.  

The men's junior quadruple was a big event, with Lee taking the title ahead of Three Castles and Neptune.

Cork clubs are having a good Championships, and UCC took the women's club eights.

Skibbereen figured strongly in some finals, but had their first Championship win when Kealan Mannix won the intermediate single sculls from Shane Haugh of Castleconnell.

Published in Rowing

#Rowing: The battle of the doubles went the way of the heavyweights at Skibbereen Regatta today. Philip Doyle and Ronan Byrne powered away from Skibbereen lightweights Fintan and Jake McCarthy into the headwind to win.

 On a beautiful day, there were clearcut wins in the fours races. UCC's women's crew of Margaret Cremen, Selma Bouanane, Tara Hanlon and stroke woman Emily Hegarty were in control. UCD's men - Shane O'Connell, Andrew Goff, Shane Mulvaney and David O'Malley - were also on top.  

The men's Division Two coxed four final had an exciting finish: UCC's club two crew crossed just ahead of Colaiste Iognaid's junior crew.

Published in Rowing

#Rowing: Commercial won a stunningly-close race to take the men’s senior eights title at the Irish Rowing Championships today. NUIG/Queen’s had a slight lead ahead of a tightly-packed field early on, but Commercial moved at the 1,000 metres. They could not shake off UCD and the NUIG/Queen’s composite. UCD

finished really fast and almost – but not quite – caught Commercial, who were taking their third consecutive title.

The women’s senior eight went to Skibbereen. Their talented crew,   stroked by Denise Walsh, had a clearwater lead over NUIG, who did not give up the fight but finished second. Skibbereen lifted their title haul to eight with the win.

Enniskillen started the evening session with two wins, in the women’s club eight, where Shandon pushed them, and the men’s junior pair, who were imperious in their victory.

The women’s junior coxed quadruple from Workmen’s was similarly impressive – the quality of junior rowing was a remarkable aspect of this regatta.

Another notable aspect was the proportion of wins which went to Cork clubs. Two of the last three titles did not leave the rebel county: UCC finished out their successful programme with a win in the men’s intermediate double through Ronan Byrne and Hugh Sutton, while Selma Bouanane took the last race of the event, the women’s intermediate single, for Fermoy.  

Irish Rowing Championships, Day Three (Selected Results)

Men

Eight – Senior: 1 Commercial (S Mac Eoin, C Cunningham, L Cameron, N Beggan, P Moreau, F Groome, M Corcoran, C Dowling; cox: M Crockett) 5:43.18, 2 UCD 5:43.76, 3 NUIG/Queen’s 5:46.82.

Four – Club, coxed: UCC A 6:38.03.

Pair – Inter: Shandon A 6:56.07. Junior: Enniskillen 6:56.199.

Sculling, Double – Inter: UCC 6:32.59. Junior: Castleconnell (R O’Neill, J Desmond) 6:49.97.

Lightweight Single: Skibbereen (A Burns) 7:20.56.

Women

Eight – Senior: 1 Skibbereen (L Heaphy, O Hayes, M Piggott, A McCarthy, N Long, N Casey, A Casey, D Walsh; cox: A O’Neill) 6:28.42, 2 NUIG A 6:33.32, 3 Trinity 6:48.35. Club: Enniskillen 6:48.33.

Four – Inter, coxed: Cork 7:22.36.

Pair – Junior: Fermoy (E O’Reilly, G McGirr) 7:48.69.

Sculling, Quadruple – Junior: Workmen’s 7:01.06.

Single – Inter: Fermoy (S Bouanane) 8:03.25.

Lightweight Single: 1 Lee (M Cremen) 8:06.97

Published in Rowing

#Rowing: UCC brought their title tally to three as they added the club coxed four to their club eights and intermediate single sculls pots at the Irish Rowing Championships today. The four was tested by four other crews coming to the line but broke free and won. The morning session on the Sunday was held in intermittent light rain.

Margaret Cremen won the women’s lightweight single sculls. The Lee woman looked dominant through much of the race, but as she approached the line she was hunted down by Orla Hayes of Skibbereen, who closed to just a few seconds on the line. Hayes’s clubmate, Aodhan Burns, left no doubts as to his intentions in the men’s lightweight single. He left the rest behind and won well.

The men’s intermediate pair gave Shandon a chance to demonstrate the depth of their talent pool. Stephen O’Sullivan and Colm Hennessy teamed up to win. The Castleconnell junior double of James Desmond and Rory O’Neill came under pressure from Lee in their win.

One of the closest races in the Championships so far came in the women’s intermediate four. Leaders Trinity were pipped on the line by Cork, whose winning margin was under a third of a second (.312).

Killorglin’s Anna Tyther and Rhiannon O’Donoghue gave Fermoy a test in the women’s junior pair. Gill McGirr and Eliza O’Reilly are an excellent crew, however, and held off their Kerry rivals.

Irish Rowing Championships, Day Three (Selected Results)

Men

Four – Club, coxed: UCC A 6:38.03.

Pair – Inter: Shandon A 6:56.07.

Sculling, Double – Junior: Castleconnell (R O’Neill, J Desmond) 6:49.97.

Lightweight Single: Skibbereen (A Burns) 7:20.56.

Women

Four – Inter, coxed: Cork 7:22.36.

Pair – Junior: Fermoy (E O’Reilly, G McGirr) 7:48.69.

Sculling, Lightweight Single: 1 Lee (M Cremen) 8:06.97.

Published in Rowing
Page 1 of 6

Ireland's Offshore Renewable Energy

Because of Ireland's location at the Atlantic edge of the EU, it has more offshore energy potential than most other countries in Europe. The conditions are suitable for the development of the full range of current offshore renewable energy technologies.

Offshore Renewable Energy FAQs

Offshore renewable energy draws on the natural energy provided by wind, wave and tide to convert it into electricity for industry and domestic consumption.

Offshore wind is the most advanced technology, using fixed wind turbines in coastal areas, while floating wind is a developing technology more suited to deeper water. In 2018, offshore wind provided a tiny fraction of global electricity supply, but it is set to expand strongly in the coming decades into a USD 1 trillion business, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). It says that turbines are growing in size and in power capacity, which in turn is "delivering major performance and cost improvements for offshore wind farms".

The global offshore wind market grew nearly 30% per year between 2010 and 2018, according to the IEA, due to rapid technology improvements, It calculated that about 150 new offshore wind projects are in active development around the world. Europe in particular has fostered the technology's development, led by Britain, Germany and Denmark, but China added more capacity than any other country in 2018.

A report for the Irish Wind Energy Assocation (IWEA) by the Carbon Trust – a British government-backed limited company established to accelerate Britain's move to a low carbon economy - says there are currently 14 fixed-bottom wind energy projects, four floating wind projects and one project that has yet to choose a technology at some stage of development in Irish waters. Some of these projects are aiming to build before 2030 to contribute to the 5GW target set by the Irish government, and others are expected to build after 2030. These projects have to secure planning permission, obtain a grid connection and also be successful in a competitive auction in the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS).

The electricity generated by each turbine is collected by an offshore electricity substation located within the wind farm. Seabed cables connect the offshore substation to an onshore substation on the coast. These cables transport the electricity to land from where it will be used to power homes, farms and businesses around Ireland. The offshore developer works with EirGrid, which operates the national grid, to identify how best to do this and where exactly on the grid the project should connect.

The new Marine Planning and Development Management Bill will create a new streamlined system for planning permission for activity or infrastructure in Irish waters or on the seabed, including offshore wind farms. It is due to be published before the end of 2020 and enacted in 2021.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE. Is there scope for community involvement in offshore wind? The IWEA says that from the early stages of a project, the wind farm developer "should be engaging with the local community to inform them about the project, answer their questions and listen to their concerns". It says this provides the community with "the opportunity to work with the developer to help shape the final layout and design of the project". Listening to fishing industry concerns, and how fishermen may be affected by survey works, construction and eventual operation of a project is "of particular concern to developers", the IWEA says. It says there will also be a community benefit fund put in place for each project. It says the final details of this will be addressed in the design of the RESS (see below) for offshore wind but it has the potential to be "tens of millions of euro over the 15 years of the RESS contract". The Government is also considering the possibility that communities will be enabled to invest in offshore wind farms though there is "no clarity yet on how this would work", the IWEA says.

Based on current plans, it would amount to around 12 GW of offshore wind energy. However, the IWEA points out that is unlikely that all of the projects planned will be completed. The industry says there is even more significant potential for floating offshore wind off Ireland's west coast and the Programme for Government contains a commitment to develop a long-term plan for at least 30 GW of floating offshore wind in our deeper waters.

There are many different models of turbines. The larger a turbine, the more efficient it is in producing electricity at a good price. In choosing a turbine model the developer will be conscious of this ,but also has to be aware the impact of the turbine on the environment, marine life, biodiversity and visual impact. As a broad rule an offshore wind turbine will have a tip-height of between 165m and 215m tall. However, turbine technology is evolving at a rapid rate with larger more efficient turbines anticipated on the market in the coming years.

 

The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme is designed to support the development of renewable energy projects in Ireland. Under the scheme wind farms and solar farms compete against each other in an auction with the projects which offer power at the lowest price awarded contracts. These contracts provide them with a guaranteed price for their power for 15 years. If they obtain a better price for their electricity on the wholesale market they must return the difference to the consumer.

Yes. The first auction for offshore renewable energy projects is expected to take place in late 2021.

Cost is one difference, and technology is another. Floating wind farm technology is relatively new, but allows use of deeper water. Ireland's 50-metre contour line is the limit for traditional bottom-fixed wind farms, and it is also very close to population centres, which makes visibility of large turbines an issue - hence the attraction of floating structures Do offshore wind farms pose a navigational hazard to shipping? Inshore fishermen do have valid concerns. One of the first steps in identifying a site as a potential location for an offshore wind farm is to identify and assess the level of existing marine activity in the area and this particularly includes shipping. The National Marine Planning Framework aims to create, for the first time, a plan to balance the various kinds of offshore activity with the protection of the Irish marine environment. This is expected to be published before the end of 2020, and will set out clearly where is suitable for offshore renewable energy development and where it is not - due, for example, to shipping movements and safe navigation.

YEnvironmental organisations are concerned about the impact of turbines on bird populations, particularly migrating birds. A Danish scientific study published in 2019 found evidence that larger birds were tending to avoid turbine blades, but said it didn't have sufficient evidence for smaller birds – and cautioned that the cumulative effect of farms could still have an impact on bird movements. A full environmental impact assessment has to be carried out before a developer can apply for planning permission to develop an offshore wind farm. This would include desk-based studies as well as extensive surveys of the population and movements of birds and marine mammals, as well as fish and seabed habitats. If a potential environmental impact is identified the developer must, as part of the planning application, show how the project will be designed in such a way as to avoid the impact or to mitigate against it.

A typical 500 MW offshore wind farm would require an operations and maintenance base which would be on the nearby coast. Such a project would generally create between 80-100 fulltime jobs, according to the IWEA. There would also be a substantial increase to in-direct employment and associated socio-economic benefit to the surrounding area where the operation and maintenance hub is located.

The recent Carbon Trust report for the IWEA, entitled Harnessing our potential, identified significant skills shortages for offshore wind in Ireland across the areas of engineering financial services and logistics. The IWEA says that as Ireland is a relatively new entrant to the offshore wind market, there are "opportunities to develop and implement strategies to address the skills shortages for delivering offshore wind and for Ireland to be a net exporter of human capital and skills to the highly competitive global offshore wind supply chain". Offshore wind requires a diverse workforce with jobs in both transferable (for example from the oil and gas sector) and specialist disciplines across apprenticeships and higher education. IWEA have a training network called the Green Tech Skillnet that facilitates training and networking opportunities in the renewable energy sector.

It is expected that developing the 3.5 GW of offshore wind energy identified in the Government's Climate Action Plan would create around 2,500 jobs in construction and development and around 700 permanent operations and maintenance jobs. The Programme for Government published in 2020 has an enhanced target of 5 GW of offshore wind which would create even more employment. The industry says that in the initial stages, the development of offshore wind energy would create employment in conducting environmental surveys, community engagement and development applications for planning. As a site moves to construction, people with backgrounds in various types of engineering, marine construction and marine transport would be recruited. Once the site is up and running , a project requires a team of turbine technicians, engineers and administrators to ensure the wind farm is fully and properly maintained, as well as crew for the crew transfer vessels transporting workers from shore to the turbines.

The IEA says that today's offshore wind market "doesn't even come close to tapping the full potential – with high-quality resources available in most major markets". It estimates that offshore wind has the potential to generate more than 420 000 Terawatt hours per year (TWh/yr) worldwide – as in more than 18 times the current global electricity demand. One Terawatt is 114 megawatts, and to put it in context, Scotland it has a population a little over 5 million and requires 25 TWh/yr of electrical energy.

Not as advanced as wind, with anchoring a big challenge – given that the most effective wave energy has to be in the most energetic locations, such as the Irish west coast. Britain, Ireland and Portugal are regarded as most advanced in developing wave energy technology. The prize is significant, the industry says, as there are forecasts that varying between 4000TWh/yr to 29500TWh/yr. Europe consumes around 3000TWh/year.

The industry has two main umbrella organisations – the Irish Wind Energy Association, which represents both onshore and offshore wind, and the Marine Renewables Industry Association, which focuses on all types of renewable in the marine environment.

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