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Citizen marine scientists and nature enthusiasts can apply for a grant of up to 5,000 euros to capture and record Ireland’s natural history.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service manages applications for the scheme, which are being sought by Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Malcolm Noonan.

The scheme “aims to help established naturalists recording in Ireland to maintain and enhance their expertise in species identification and to develop the next generation of natural history recorders”, his department says.

“Ireland has a long tradition of natural history recording, and natural history recorders are recognised as vital in maintaining the quality of information on Ireland’s native species and natural and semi-natural habitats,”it says.

However, the National Parks and Wildlife Service at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage says it recognises that the recording community - individuals and groups - needs support to carry out their important work.

Grants are available for volunteer, unpaid recorders, or groups, societies and associations of recorders who have limited or no access to financial support for their work. This is the fifth year of the grant scheme, and it has supported over 70 projects to date.

Skate and ray surveys in Tralee Bay were one of the projects grant-aided last year.

Applications should be submitted by 5 pm on 31st March 2023. The form and further details can be found here

Application forms will ONLY be accepted by email submission to [email protected]

Published in Marine Science
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A student team has won the Irish leg of an international contest for a design that draws on hydropower and wind power to generate electricity stored in a battery.

The “affordable clean energy generator system” uses both hydropower and wind to provide enough electricity for 250 light bulbs in one hour.

The prototype, named “Own It” was submitted to the “Invent for the Planet” contest, a 48-hour intensive design experience involving 29 universities in 22 locations around the world.

Competitors are given a single weekend to solve high-impact, global problems in the contest, organised by Texas A&M University.

The winning Irish team, named “Power Up”, involved Xing Ying Chuang, third-year biomedical student at ATU Galway; Tom Hakizinka Senga, a second-year mechanical engineering student at Dundalk IT; Tenis Ranjan, postgraduate student at the University of Galway; Edbin Ostilio Buezo Zuniga, a first-year engineering student at ATU Sligo; and Ontiretse Ishmael, PhD computing, ATU. 

Runners up “Eat Smart”, L to R, Caoimhe McCormack, first year Environmental Science student at ATU Sligo; Zain Ali, IT Master student at ATU Donegal; Vijay Kumar, IT Master student at ATU Donegal; Jessica Henry, third year Software engineering year at ATU Sligo. Photo: Mike ShaughnessyRunners up “Eat Smart”, L to R, Caoimhe McCormack, first year Environmental Science student at ATU Sligo; Zain Ali, IT Master student at ATU Donegal; Vijay Kumar, IT Master student at ATU Donegal; Jessica Henry, third year Software engineering year at ATU Sligo. Photo: Mike Shaughnessy

Another Irish team designed a solution to remove existing carbon from the environment. The “Blue Carbon” team used the space beneath wind turbines for aquaculture, such as mollusc and seaweed farming, to remove carbon and stimulate fish stocks through the creation of artificial reefs.

Eight different teams worked intensively on a selection of challenges and, with guidance from mentors, had to present a prototype, involving a 10-minute pitching presentation and 90-second video, to a panel of judges.

The Irish leg of the “Invent for the Planet 2023” was kindly sponsored by Thermo King; Boston Scientific; Marine Institute, BIM; the Department of Agricultural, Food and Marine; and MathWorks.

Published in Marine Science
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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
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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
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