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Children from Rang 2 at Scoil Shéamais Naofa in Bearna got up close and personal with sharks on the RV Celtic Explorer as part of the Marine Institute’s outreach and engagement programme.

The pupils completed a project module on sharks in Irish waters as part of the Marine Institute’s Explorers Education Programme, and also had the opportunity to visit the State research vessel.

Outreach officer Padraic Creedon of the Explorers Education Programme said one if the programme’s unique elements “is the content and support provided to teachers in the classroom in an easy and fun way.

“The students were inspired by the discovery of a rare shark nursery 200 miles off the west coast of Ireland in 2018, and we were delighted to create lessons, interactive experiments and discussion about the ocean, sharks and their environment for the class.”

While on board the RV Celtic Explorer, pupils met with the captain and scientists and saw what it might be like to work on a research vessel.

Students spoke with Captain Denis Ronan about the Celtic Explorer, and learn more about the acoustically silent ship that can stay out at sea for up to 35 days.

The pupils were excited to tour the vessel and speak with marine scientists to discover more about shark species, seabed mapping, shipwrecks and the marine environment.

Visiting the dry and wet labs, the pupils saw various fish species from recent surveys and shark species, such as dogfish and the tope shark.

Clár Ní Bhraonáin, teacher at Scoil Shéamais Naofa, said: “It has been an amazing experience … Students don’t forget days like this.”

The Explorers programme offers a range of materials including lesson plans to conduct experiments in class, watching films that helps generate discussion, and peer learning among pupils.

“Because of the students’ enthusiasm to learn more about sharks, we have been able to incorporate marine themes across the curriculum, where they have excelled and produced some incredible work, from writing books about sharks to a series of posters and artwork,” Ní Bhraonáin added.

“This project has really helped myself and the students learn more about the ocean.”

For more information on the Explorers Education outreach centres, visit the Explorers Contacts page at Explorers.ie. The programme is supported by the Marine Institute and is funded under the Marine Research Programme by the Government.

Published in Marine Wildlife

Last week the Marine Institute’s headquarters in Oranmore, Co Galway welcomed 22 Transition year students to its fifth annual TY training week.

Students from Galway, Mayo, Clare, Roscommon, Dublin and Waterford engaged in a range of STEM-related activities to experience what it is like to work in the marine sector.

The TY students shadowed scientists and staff at the Marine Institute, learning about marine science, technology and asasociated disciplines.

They also engaged in a range of presentations and interactive activities related to fisheries science, marine chemistry, seabed mapping, food safety, research vessel operations, maritime development, oceanography and marine climate, data, applications development, team-building and communications.

“Increasing students’ knowledge on the importance of our marine resource, is key to supporting Ireland's ocean economy, where highly skilled professionals are needed in the future,” said Marine Institute chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan.

“Our TY Week programme aims to inspire a new generation of marine professionals, and provides an insight into the diverse career opportunities on offer in Ireland’s marine sector.”

TY students from any school in Ireland are welcome to apply for this week-long, full-time work experience opportunity at the Marine Institute for 2020. Further details on the application process will be available later this year.

Published in Marine Science

Waterways Ireland and Leave No Trace Ireland are working in partnership again to deliver their River Explorers programme.

River Explorers engages local primary school children to take pride in their local river, lake or canal.

Funding was successfully secured during 2018 to run the programme from a number of local authorities including Cavan, Longford, Fingal, Kilkenny, Limerick and Clare.

The programme runs throughout February and March, and for 2019 increases from 17 to 20 days given the additional level of funding secured.

The programme will be taking place at the 12th Lock in Castleknock and Richmond Harbour, Clondra on the Royal Canal; Twomilegate on the Shannon; Ballyconnell on the Shannon-Erne Waterway; and Graiguenamanagh on the Barrow.

Waterways Ireland says schools have been “very eager” to participate in the programme, with all available sessions now fully booked.

River Explorers is a one-day programme which aims to enable participants to become aware of the geographical location, leisure potential and biodiversity value of their local river, lake or canal through outdoor and hands-on learning, skills training, resource development and raising public awareness.

“Creating positive memories, healthy lifestyles, and physical wellbeing as well as paving the way for creating opportunities for caring for our natural heritage are all integral facets of a project that has sustainability at its core,” says Waterways Ireland.

“This project will empower primary school students to connect with their natural environment and enjoy their natural heritage responsibly and ethically.”

Each participating school group will take part in classroom-based sessions in the morning followed by outdoor sessions in the afternoon at their local waterway.

“The idea in the morning session is to impart the knowledge and skills the participants need to understand how to identify the wealth of biodiversity on the local rivers and canals, be able to anticipate how their use of these waterways impacts on this and the measures they can take to minimise this impact,” the organisers explain.

“The afternoon session is about putting the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom into practice. Students will have the opportunity to discover the vast array of wildlife that calls the inland waterways their home.

“Each group will learn how to identify some of the plants and trees along canal and river banks and even come face to face with some mini-beasts living in these ecosystems.

“Leave No Trace Ireland and Waterways Ireland are delighted to partner in the delivery of what promises to be an excellent education programme.”

Published in Inland Waterways

The Marine Institute has welcomed Irish commitments announced at the recent Our Ocean Conference in Bali which include the provision of €25 million for a 50-metre modern research vessel to replace the RV Celtic Voyager.

“The vessel will provide critical national infrastructure to enable Ireland to address the considerable challenges of Brexit and the Common Fisheries Policy as well as climate-induced impacts on our oceans,” Marine Institute chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan said.

In addition, the Marine Institute says it has committed €2 million towards a new five-year programme of ocean and climate research.

With 50% funding from the EU ERDF scheme, the Marine Institute is running a competitive funding call to support the establishment of a principal investigator-led research team in an Irish higher education iSnstitution.

“This is a key investment to build capacity in an area of research prioritised under the National Marine Research and Innovation Strategy (2017-2021),” Dr Heffernan said.

“The research funded under this programme will deliver societally relevant knowledge aimed at better understanding the complex interactions between the ocean and climate change.”

Minister Creed also announced the continued commitment to the Environmental Educational module of Ireland’s Green Schools programme, and the continued support of the Clean Coasts programme.

“These programmes aim to build on Ireland’s marine and maritime heritage by increasing awareness of the value, opportunities and social benefits of our ocean wealth and identity, further supporting the Marine Institute’s Explorers Education Programme,” Dr Heffernan said.

Other announcements by Ireland include the provision of €10m to the local authority sector in Ireland to aid in the establishment of four Climate Action Regional Offices (CAROs) and €1m over a five-year period (2019-2024) towards a new programme of ocean and climate research.

The Marine Institute also welcomes commitments announced by the European Commission which include €300 million for EU-funded initiatives for projects to tackle plastic pollution, make the ‘blue economy’ more sustainable and improve research and marine surveillance.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineScience - The new mission to Ireland’s offshore reaches to monitor seismic activity on the North Atlantic floor is to engage with schools while at sea.

As previously covered on Afloat.ie, scientists from the Dublin Institute for Advances Studies (DIAS) departed last Monday 17 September, on board the RV Celtic Explorer, for the three-week voyage that will see them deploy a network of 18 seismometers as part of the SEA-SEIS project.

Daniel Farrell is reporting on their work via the RV Celtic Explorer’s blog [email protected].

“I am looking forward to sharing first-hand what it’s like being on a research vessel such as the RV Celtic Explorer,” says Farrell, of CoastMonkey.ie and sponsored by DIAS and the Marine Institute.

“I have a passion for the sea, and will be filming the scientists, writing content for the blog as well as taking photos of all of the activities where everyone can keep up to date with what is happening.”

Students and teachers can engage with the mission through Farrell’s blog posts as well as with a range of resources and videos available on the SEA-SEIS website.

“The SEA-SEIS team have also organised a range of activities that both primary and secondary schools can take part in over the next couple of months,” Farrell adds.

“There are teaching resources and lesson plans from the Explorers Education Programme, as well as some great competitions involving a drawing competition and composing a rap song.”

Published in Marine Science

#Angling - Novice anglers are invited to try their hand at fishing at the upcoming National Ploughing Championships.

Inland Fisheries Ireland will attend the three days that kick off in Screggan near Tullamore, Co Offaly from tomorrow, Tuesday 18 September, with a fun fishing simulator suitable for all the family.

The simulator will be present at IFI stand within the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment’s tent at the championships.

Fisheries officers will be on hand to answer questions from members of the public around best farming practice on waterways, and how to take up angling as a novice, as well to provide information and guidance around Ireland’s fish species and the aquatic environment.

There will also be aquariums with a range of coarse and game fish species on display.

“The participation of the public in the fisheries resource is vital in ensuring it is protected and enhanced in a sustainable manner for both the recreational and economic benefits it offers to communities nationwide,” says Suzanne Campion, IFI’s head of business development.

“We are looking forward to sharing insights into the fisheries resource, and the indigenous fish species that live within it, with both the general public and the farming community.”

Also exhibiting at the National Ploughing Championships this year are Leave No Trace Ireland and the Marine Institute’s Explorers Education Programme, who aim to highlight the impact of plastics in our oceans at their stand in the the Department of Community and Rural Affairs tent.

“A truckload of plastic waste finds its way into the ocean every minute of every day, and it is estimated that by 2050 there could be more plastic by weight than fish in the ocean unless behaviours change,” explains Maura Lyons, chief executive of Leave No Trace Ireland.

“Although we are all contributing to this worldwide epidemic, recent campaigns such as Say #No to Plastic have generated an amazing amount of supporters at community levels – particularly with children and families wanting to create change.”

With the research being completed in Ireland and around the world, results of plastics making their way into the ocean are showing a significant impact on the marine environment and animals.

Unprecedented levels of microscopic plastic particles were recently detected in an oceanic survey carried out by phytoplankton, biotoxin and oceanographic scientists from the Marine Institute.

From the larger plastics to clothes fibres from our washing machines all making their way into the ocean, visitors to the Leave No Trace/Explorers Education stand will get an opportunity to learn how long it takes for single-use plastic to break down, as well as receiving tips on how to go plastic free.

Those attending will also get to see live native marine species that are typically found in rock pools around the Irish coast including dogfish, plaice and starfish in the Explorers display boat.

“It is great to see an increased interest from children, schools, communities and businesses in Ireland that have already committed to reducing single-use plastics by offering alternatives for customers,” Lyons says. “These small changes can result in big impacts, which will help encourage a change in behaviours.”

Published in Angling

#MarineScience - Irish Sailing’s Cara na Mara programme teamed up with the Marine Institute’s Explorers Education Programme this month in encouraging primary schools to engage with the marine environment.

Clubs involved with the programme, that aimed to offer “a dynamic learning experience” while also enjoying sailing, included Galway City Sailing Club, where Joss Myers offered a blend of ocean literacy and beach cleanup followed by Topaz sailing in Galway Bay.

At Howth Yacht Club, Quest with Sarah Robertson integrated her hands-on learning in STEM and how it applies to sailing, and each child got to sail on the J80 club sailing fleet.

Rathmullan Sailing Club with Aengus Kennedy looked at the flora and fauna in their local beach habitats and used their fleet of Bahias to go on trips exploring the Donegal coastline.

And at Foynes Yacht Club, Elaine O’Mahony looked at integrating environmental awareness and marine literature and history while sailing club boats in the maritime village.

Irish Sailing hopes that many of the students who trialled the Explorers element will come back over the summer to start their Cara na Mara junior courses as part of their sailing pathway.

For further information on this initiative, contact Ciarán Murphy at 087 880 0744 or [email protected].

Published in Marine Science

#MarineScience - Build Your Own Unknown, a marine science and art project by fourth-class pupils at Cregmore National School in Co Galway, has been shortlisted for the Allianz Business to Arts Awards.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Cregmore pupils worked with artist Louise Manifold to produce their installation and short film, using images and footage from the ROV Holland I for inspiration in recreating the discovery of the Moytirra deep-sea hydrothermal vents in 2011.

The project — which places art, marine science and technology in the heart of the classroom — also involved TULCA in partnership with the Marine Institute’s Explorers Education Programme and marine scientist Dr Andy Wheeler from UCC.

Marine Institute chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan congratulated the team on their achievement and wished them luck for awards night.

“One of the greatest outcomes of the Build Your Own Unknown project was being able to provide an opportunity for artists, marine scientists and educators to work together to help engage and increase children, teachers and the wider community’s awareness about the importance of our ocean,” said Dr Heffernan.

The Allianz Business to Arts Awards recognise and champion the spirit of collaboration between businesses, artists and arts organisations that develop creative partnerships; bringing the arts and artists into mutually beneficial relationships across society.

The winners of this year’s Allianz Business to Arts Awards will be announced later this evening (Monday 4 September).

Published in Marine Science

#MarineScience - Fourth-class pupils from Cregmore National School in Co Galway are creating a marine science and art installation and short film with artist Louise Manifold that re-enacts the 2011 discovery of the Moytirra deep-sea hydrothermal vents.

Build Your Own Unknown sees the school children use images and footage from the ROV Holland I for inspiration to recreate the discovery of the gigantic rock formations, ‘smoking’ lava vents over 10m high, and areas teeming with unusual species new to science at the Moytirra vent field in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, some 3km below the surface north of the Azores.

Louise Manifold, the local artist leading the project, said: "As an artist I have always been fascinated by relationship between science and cinema, where often our connections to ocean is formed through our childhood imagination, from sci-fi films to childhood games and mythical stories.

“Build Your Own Unknown is not only about understanding our connections to the ocean, but it is about valuing human curiosity, and I am really enjoying the opportunity to work with the pupils of Cregmore to make an amazing piece of work that celebrates this."

Supported through the Marine Institute's Explorers Education Programme and the Tulca OFFshore programme, the marine science/art collaboration is welcomed by Marine Institute chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan.

"This is an innovative opportunity for artists, marine scientists and educators to engage and increase our awareness about the value, opportunities and societal benefits that the ocean provides us,” he said.

"Rediscovering the mystery of the ocean through the eyes of a scientist, the children have been given the opportunity to work with the Institute and Dr Andy Wheeler from UCC, who was the chief scientist on the research vessel RV Celtic Explorer, that had explored and aptly named Moytirra vents after a mythological Irish battlefield meaning plain of pillars.”

Build Your Own Unknown will be on show at SeaFest 2017, Ireland’s national maritime festival from 30 June to 2 July, which will promote the importance of ocean exploration as well as engage the wider community through visual arts.

The project will also include the development of cross-curricular education lesson plans and resources that teachers will be able to use for their own art-science project module. These will be available later this year at www.explorers.ie.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineScience - Over 20 Transition Year students participated in a wide range of activities at the Marine Institute as part of Engineering Week this past week from Monday 27 February to Friday 3 March.

For the third annual TY training week at the Marine Institute headquarters in Oranmore, the fourth-year pupils from Mayo, Galway, Kerry, Cork and Tralee increased their understanding of and interest in marine science, research engineering and technology careers.

Scientists and staff from the State agency responsible for marine research and innovation welcomed the opportunity to share their passion and insights across a wide range of areas in the marine science and maritime sectors.

Ireland's marine sector is a vibrant part of our national economy and the need for education in the marine sector at all levels is highlighted by Ireland's Integrated Marine Plan, Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth, according to Marine Institute chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan.

“Increasing the student's knowledge and engagement with marine careers in science, technology and innovation, as well as the sustainable development and management of our marine resource, is key to support Ireland's ocean economy, where highly qualified and skilled professionals are needed in the coming years,” he added.

The annual TY training course offers students an intensive week of shadowing scientists and staff learning about marine science, technology and engineering as well as a range of diverse supporting disciplines.

Promoting ocean literacy, the students took part in interactive experiments involving IT applications, marine environment and food safety, fisheries sciences, research vessel operations as well as advanced mapping, maritime development and communications.

The students found themselves working with hairdryers, balls and vinegar learning about data collection to how human industrial activities affect the increased levels of carbon dioxide in the ocean.

Interactive activities included dressing up in wet gear, forming sand sculptures of shipwrecks and working on group poster presentations provided learning opportunities that extended their skills and interests as well as raising their awareness about the ocean.

“With the training week fully booked out, we were delighted to see the increased levels of interest and understanding of the marine and the direct benefits of the communications and team building training that form an essential part of this rounded programme,” said Marine Institute HR manager Catherine Quigley-Johnston.

The programme aims to ensure a diverse and well-educated generation of marine scientists and researchers for the future, she added.

“The feedback from students confirms the need for industry and third level institutes, as well as State agencies to promote training and access for young people in marine and maritime careers.

“The training programme also highlights the effort and willingness of the Institute's staff to share their areas of expertise with the younger generations. This is what helps makes TY open days and training weeks so successful,” said Quigley-Johnston.

Published in Marine Science
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The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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