Menu

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

In association with ISA Logo Irish Sailing

Displaying items by tag: research

New research on Irish puffins has revealed that the sea birds swap the skies for the sea and make use of strong total currents to save energy when they search for food.

The two-year study by MaREI and conservation charity ZSL tracked puffins from Little Saltee, Co Wexford by GPS — and discovered that the birds are using the strong tidal currents in the region for a ‘free ride’ across feeding areas, saving them close to half of their usual energy usage.

Previous seabird tracking studies have shown that birds travel between often distant patches at sea where they concentrate feeding, requiring considerable effort — particularly for puffins, whose wings are short and adapted for swimming underwater.

“Our puffins have completely dispensed with the need to fly between patches of food,” said lead author Ashley Bennison, a researcher at MaREI.

It is as yet unclear exactly how the Saltee Islands’ puffins came to adapt their behaviour.

But the study, which marks the first time Irish puffins have been tracked in this manner, concludes that such behaviours are likely to be found elsewhere.

“We have long suspected that animals are able to adapt their foraging behaviour to the local environment, and this is an excellent example of how animals can surprise us with their ingenuity,” Bennison said.

The full study is published in the journal Biology Letters.

Published in Marine Wildlife

PhD student Catherine Jordan will bring her research on phytoplankton blooms to the third annual Soapbox Science even in Galway tomorrow afternoon (Saturday 29 June).

She will be among 12 female scientists standing on their soapboxes to talk about their groundbreaking research in the areas of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine at the city’s Spanish Arch from noon to 3pm.

Jordan, a PhD candidate through the Marine Institute’s Cullen Fellowship Programme and NUI Galway, will discuss her research on using satellite technology to observe and identify phytoplankton blooms in North-East Atlantic waters.

“When conditions are right, phytoplankton appear in high numbers and produce green and dark red hues in the water and are known as ‘algal blooms’,” she explains.

“As these blooms can sometimes be visible from space, satellites provide a useful tool in monitoring the location and extent of these blooms.

“In most cases phytoplankton blooms are of benefit to the ecosystem, but a small proportion of phytoplankton species produce toxins which may affect other marine life.

“Satellites may be able to assist in providing early wide-scale warnings of the presence of algal blooms, by using ocean colour sensors. A lot of my research focuses on measuring optical properties of light by using different instruments and methods, as well as validating satellite measurements.”

Jordan recently joined the Marine Institute’s annual ocean climate research survey on the RV Celtic Explorer to collect plankton samples and hyperspectral radiometer data as part of her PhD research.

Speaking about the Soapbox Science even, Jordan said: “I am very passionate about my field of science and also promoting how women can work on marine research vessels and spend weeks at sea.

“It is very important to engage the public in learning about marine science in interactive ways in order to explain very complex matters. Soapbox Science is an excellent platform for promoting women in science and encouraging the public to discuss topics they may not have encountered before.”

Soapbox Science Galway began two years ago, and talks this year will cover a diverse range of topics such as enhancing farming using insects, the marvels of human milk, the internet as a force for good, and statistical thinking for real-life questions.

The event will also be held in Dublin and Cork, as well as in several countries around the world including the UK, US, Canada, Australia, Sweden, Germany, Brazil and South Africa.

For the full list of participants and more information about Soapbox Science visit soapboxscience.org

Published in Marine Science

A new joint initiative between Ireland and Cyprus for a Centre of Excellence for Marine and Maritime Research has been awarded a €15 million grant from the European Commission.

The funding under Horizon 2020: Widespread’s Coordination and Support Action call goes to the project titled CMMI MaRITeC-X, whose main objective is to establish a marine science and maritime research centre in Cyprus, the Cyprus Marine and Maritime Institute (CMMI), within the next seven years.

In this initiative, the Marine Institute and SmartBay Ireland is partnering with Cypriot government bodies (Municipality of Larnaka), private companies and organisations (GeoImaging Ltd, Maritime Institute of Eastern Mediterranean, SignalGenerix Ltd and Limassol Chamber of Commerce) as well as with the University of Southampton, UK.

The new institute to be formed in Cyprus will focus on research, technology development and innovation in several sectors critical for the Cypriot economy, such as maritime transport, marine ecosystems, offshore energy and other societal needs in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Currently in grant agreement preparation, the project is expected to kick off by end of the second quarter this year.

The Marine Institute says project complements the ambitions set out for Ireland in Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth relating to the development of our shipping and maritime industry by enabling Ireland to build expertise in these areas.

More broadly, the Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth strategy sets out clear targets in terms of turnover from the marine economy by 2020, and increasing the industry’s contribution to GDP to 2.4% a year by 2030.

The MaRITeC-X project will contribute to these objectives and is also consistent with Ireland’s Marine Research & Innovation Strategy. This strategy supports the implementation of Innovation 2020, Ireland’s national research and innovation strategy, which identifies the marine sector as one of eight areas of focus for social progress and the economy.

The Marine Institute’s contribution to the project (with a combined award of €2m) will be managed jointly by the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) and SmartBay Ireland.

It’s expected that the project will allow Ireland to build national research and development capacity and to collaborate with institutions and organisations across Europe as it contributes to expertise in building marine and maritime clusters.

Marine Institute chief executive Peter Heffernan said: “We are delighted at news of the MaRITeC-X award. The award acknowledges the excellence and leadership that both the Marine Institute and SmartBay demonstrate in the European maritime landscape.

“We look forward to cooperating and collaborating with our Cypriot partners to the benefit of both innovation-led maritime economies.”

Garrett Murray, national director for Horizon 2020 at Enterprise Ireland, added: “Ireland continues to perform well under the programme and there is significant competitive funding available for Irish researchers and companies under Horizon 2020 with 40% of the budget remaining.

“EI and partner agencies are committed to supporting participation in H2020 to realise the Irish Government’s target of winning €1.2bn from the EU’s €70bn Horizon 2020 R&I budget.”

John Breslin, general manager of SmartBay Ireland said his company would be “reaching out to Irish businesses and research organisations who wish to collaborate with CMMI and its stakeholders, to help broker the development of joint projects and funding opportunities”.

Published in Marine Science

Research from Dr Katie Thomas of the Marine Institute has investigated the mechanisms for growth mark formation in scales of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar Linnaeus) and the cause of variations in scale growth measurements.

Dr Thomas recently graduated with her PhD on her thesis, titled Scale Growth Analysis of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L) Unlocking Environmental Histories, from the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) under the supervision of Dr Niall Ó Maoiléidigh, Marine Institute; Dr Deirdre Brophy, GMIT; and Tom Hansen, Institute of Marine Research Norway.

The PhD was funded by the Marine Institute, the Institute of Marine Research Norway and the Loughs Agency, Northern Ireland.

The Atlantic salmon is native to the temperate and sub-Arctic regions of the North Atlantic Ocean, utilising rivers for spawning and nursery and the marine environment for adult feeding, development and rapid growth.

Direct observation of the salmon’s life is challenging and costly, so scales are widely used to assess and monitor changes in growth.

“The entire life history of an individual fish is recorded on a scale which begins to form during the fry stage of the lifecycle,” Dr Thomas said.

“As the scale develops, it lays down concentric ridges or rings called circuli, which look similar to rings on a tree. The number of circuli on a scale and the distances between each circuli are measured to provide a history of individual and population growth histories.

“These changes over time can be used to infer the salmons use of the ecosystem, and indicate whether changes in growth are apparent over time and between populations.”

Scale measurements are taken from a specific body location as recommended by the International Council for Exploration of the Seas (ICES) to standardise scale analysis globally.

The first aim of Dr Thomas’ research was to compare wild Atlantic salmon growth measurements from different body areas and to establish a calculation or a conversion that could be applied to match the measurements from the standard sampling location.

“Because scales do not form at the same time, the size and shapes of scales can look very different to each other. The next part of my research was to take size and shape measurements from scales across the body and produce a calculation that determines where on the body a scale may have originated,” she added.

Overall salmon survival during the marine phase is strongly linked to the post-smolt growth period, which is the scale growth from when a young salmon migrates to sea up to the first winter at sea.

It is widely believed that circuli form on the scale every seven days during the summer and every 14 days during the winter and also the wider the distance between the circuli, the better overall growth is

As this had never been experimentally validated before, the next aim of the research was to undertake experiments in the Institute of Marine Research laboratory (Matre) in Norway.

Dr Thomas explained: “Results from the experiments showed that circuli formation rates are not constant but ranged between four to 18 days. In addition, the spacing between the circuli did not reflect growth rate suggesting that wide spacing between each circuli was not necessarily an indication of good growth.”

In the last stage of the research, scales from Atlantic salmon collected from three Irish rivers — Burrishoole, Moy and Shannon — between 1954 and 2008 were analysed to determine if marine growth had changed during that period.

The research showed that post-smolt scale growth declined over the decades corresponding to declines in return rates of Atlantic salmon, but the change in growth was not consistent between the different rivers.

This highlighted that the trends observed in one national index river may not be representative of change across all Irish populations, and that more than one index river should be used to investigate survival rates in our salmon populations.

The new knowledge generated from the PhD thesis supports more accurate interpretation of scale growth measurements, furthers our understanding of the factors affecting the survival of the wild Irish salmon and ultimately benefits the future management of this iconic species.

Dr Niall Ó Maoiléidigh of the Marine Institute said: “Dr Thomas’ research feeds directly into the institute’s long-term monitoring and stock assessment programme for Irish salmon stocks and the ongoing programme of research in the Burrishoole national index river initiated in the 1960s.

“These results are helping unravel the complicated links between climate change and factors which are causing persistent declines in salmon returns to rivers, not just in Ireland, but in countries on both sides of the Atlantic where salmon occur.”

Dr Thomas’ thesis is available on the Marine Institute’s Open Access Repository. A paper from this thesis titled ‘Experimental Investigation of the effects of temperature and feeding regime on scale growth in Atlantic salmon Salmo salar post-smolts’ was also recently published in the Journal of Fish Biology.

Dr Thomas’ current research is funded under Ireland’s DCF Pollack Programme, which is supported by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).

Published in Marine Science

Inland Fisheries Ireland and the School of Natural Sciences at Trinity College Dublin have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU).

The MOU will enable both institutions to collaborate across fisheries research projects.

Sean Canney, Minister of State with responsibility for the inland fisheries sector, attended the signing and welcomed the formalisation of the partnership across fisheries research.

The MOU is a culmination of a 20-year relationship between the two organisations and aims to bring greater synergy to their working relationship. It will increase opportunities for more collaborative projects through direct co-operation and sharing of resources.

The MOU was signed by Professor Andrew Bowie, associate dean of research at Trinity College Dublin, and Dr Ciaran Byrne, chief executive of Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI).

Commenting on the significance of the partnership, Minister Canney said: “I hope that the MOU will act as an impetus to move forward with joint research to support the conservation and development of our natural resource.”

In the year ahead, research around climate change and the challenges it presents for the fisheries resource will continue to be a focus for both organisations.

IFI has established a national climate monitoring programme in water bodies nationwide with a view to producing high-quality research to inform management strategies for freshwater and marine fish species experiencing the effects of climate change.

Trinity College Dublin recently appointed two academic staff to the School of Natural Sciences whose expertise are centred on marine ecology and fish biology. Those appointments bolster the existing capacity within the School of Natural Sciences for impactful and innovative research that is highly relevant to IFI’s broad remit.

Dr Byrne said IFI “is a unique research agency, where high-level scientific expertise in fisheries ecology is supported by a nationwide sampling programme which includes index river catchments that provide invaluable ecological time series.

“We collaborate in numerous research programmes, conducting applied science to inform expert advice on the management of Ireland’s inland fisheries resource.

“The natural affinity of Inland Fisheries Ireland and the School of Natural Sciences at Trinity College Dublin has been formalised today by the signing of this MOU. Both institutions have long histories of scientific discovery and producing high quality research; by consolidating future collaborations the inland and marine fisheries resource will benefit from the combined expertise of our researchers to deliver excellent research, which will support conservation and management of a precious natural resource.”

Prof Bowie added: “Our zoology department conducts world-leading research on the impacts of climate change across marine, freshwater and terrestrial systems.

“That department’s team of computation modellers, ecosystem ecologists, and conservation biologists represent a critical mass of expertise that should prove valuable partners for addressing broad questions with Inland Fisheries Ireland about climate impacts on fisheries resources.”

Published in Marine Science

There’s still time to apply for the Marine Institute’s vacancy for a temporary team leader for its Eurofleets Plus and Marine Robots projects.

Applications close at noon tomorrow, Monday 28 January for the position, in which the successful candidate will act as project manager for the Eurofleets Plus project.

Eurofleets Plus is a four-year advanced community research infrastructure project which has been awarded funding via Horizon 2020, and aims to unify oceanic research fleets across Europe for shared purposes and common goals.

Among other requirements, the Marine Institute is looking for applicants with degree in a scientific or technical subject am with a proven background in working in marine research projects, ideally in a co-ordination capacity.

The Marine Institute website has more on the role and how to apply HERE.

Published in Jobs

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 - More than 70 leading marine scientists from across Europe met in Galway recently to discuss open access to research on ocean observation.

The Marine Institute in Oranmore hosted the second general assembly of the EU-funded Jerico-NEXT Project, which aims to build on the ongoing co-operation of coastal observatories in Europe — such as SmartBay in Galway — for wider application by the research community and society alike.

A fundamental tenet of the project is that coastal areas are the “most productive and dynamic environment” in the world’s oceans, according to the institute, with significant potential for renewable energy in particular.

“The Marine Institute has a longstanding commitment to the collection, processing and analysis of high quality coastal marine observations,” said the institute’s Paul Gaughan.

“In Ireland we are utilising the SmartBay coastal observatory, located 5km off Spiddal in Galway Bay, as a key component in this trans-European collaboration effort.

“From this we are able to deliver high quality information about sea conditions, subsea video and audio data in real-time to scientists around Europe to access and analyse.”

Data from the SmartBay site are freely available online.

The Marine Institute also recently hosted a delegation of officials from Kenya as part of the Memorandum of Understanding signed last year with the Kenyan Marine Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI).

The official visit focused on developing an action plan around seven priority areas outlined in the MoU, which include plans for marine fisheries management, hydro-acoustics and assessment of pelagic fisheries resources.

Other priorities are spatial analysis and mapping of vessel monitoring system (VMS) data, integration of VMS and logbook data for fisheries management, and a data management strategy.

Opportunities for exchange, study visits and developing joint PhD and post-doctoral research projects were also a focus of discussions.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineScience - Applications are open for shiptime in 2019 and 2020 on Ireland’s national research vessels Celtic Explorer and Celtic Voyager, as well as the ROV Holland I and the Laochra na Mara glider.

Every year a broad range of organisations use the Marine Institute’s vessels for research, development and monitoring programmes. These include Government departments and agencies, universities, research institutes and industry.

Applications for shiptime for 2019 and 2020 must be submitted using Research Vessel Operations’ online Survey Planning System (SPS) by Thursday 20 September. Please contact Research Vessel Operations to obtain an SPS login if you don’t already have one and to inquire about glider availability.

Each application will be reviewed and the applicant will be informed as soon as possible whether the shiptime they requested is available. If the requested shiptime is not available, alternative dates may be offered. The Vessel Charter Guidelines should be read carefully before submitting the ship time application form.

Applicants may seek grant aid to cover all or part of the vessel charter costs for research surveys or ship-based Training Programmes. The closing date for receipt of grant aid applications is 5pm on Friday 21 September.

Applicants for ship-based training are advised to consult with the Strategic Marine Alliance for Research and Training (SMART) at [email protected].

The survey schedules can change during the year, therefore please contact Research Vessel Operations to check whether any survey slots remain for 2018 or to be notified if any dates become available.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineScience - One of Ireland’s deep water coral reefs is changing at a rate of some 20% over four years, faster than previously thought.

That’s according to new research published by Dr Aaron Lim of the Marine Geology Research Group at University College Cork.

Images and samples were retrieved from the cold water reefs on two separate occasions using the Marine Institute’s ROV Holland 1 operated from the RV Celtic Explorer — representing “the first ever successful attempt at imaging an entire deep water reef” at 1km below the surface, explains Dr Lim.

“Over half the species of coral in the world are cold, deep-water species and many of them can be found in Irish waters between water depths of 600m and 1,000m,” he added.

One of the most prolific places on the planet for deepwater coral development is the Belgic Mound Province, at the Porcupine Bank on the Irish continental margin, where there are over fifty giant coral mounds and 300 smaller coral reefs. 

In 2011 and 2015, the Holland 1 was used by marine scientists to capture images and footage of the entire surface of one of these reefs, “which has for the first time has provided us the insight into how the reefs grow at this scale,” Dr Lim said.

“Initial results showed that the reef was extremely variable and is coping with the contemporary environmental conditions,” said Prof Andy Wheeler, head of geology at UCC and who has been working in Ireland’s corals for 20 years. 

“However, the issue is that it is so difficult to take images of the deep ocean that we can only get bits of information from these reefs during an expedition.”

Dr Lim added: “The importance of this technology and having access to the national research vessel has meant that we can get access to what was only a few decades ago inaccessible. We can now provide a detailed analyses of the reef, showing that it changed at a rate of 20% in four years.”

Unlike its tropical water counterparts, which suffer from mass coral bleaching events, the proportion of live coral on this reef did not change. 

“The change was in fact an increase in the proportion of dead coral and coral rubble areas, which is not the result of live coral dying, but possibly due to the result of strong currents exposing dead coral buried beneath older parts of the reef,” Dr Lim said. 

“Assuming the change continues at this rate, then in 20 years the reef will entirely change.”

Dr Lim and Prof Wheeler have commenced a sizeable research project to monitor a range of coral habitats on the Irish margin with the aim of understanding what is driving these habitats and what makes them change. This research has been funded by the Irish Research Council, the Marine Institute and UCC.

Published in Marine Science
Tagged under
Page 1 of 10

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

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

mgm sidebutton
bjmarine sidebutton
xyachts sidebutton

Featured Associations

ISA sidebutton
ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Events

tokyo sidebutton
sovscup sidebutton
vdlr sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
viking sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
sellingboat sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating