As we go full steam into the year ahead, lets take a quick look back at 2015, a busy year here at the Marine Institute with some key advances, including the installation of Ireland’s first ocean observatory in Galway Bay and the first transatlantic mapping survey under the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance.
We began the year with a major upgrade to the RV Celtic Explorer in JANUARY. This included the installation of state of the art sonar systems for bathymetric mapping in deep and shallow waters and the installation of a deepwater sub bottom profiler.
In APRIL a subsea cable was laid in Galway Bay for Ireland’s first subsea ocean observatory. The cable deployed from the RV Celtic Explorer connects the Galway Bay Ocean Observatory and Ocean Energy Test site to the shore at An Spidéal. A few months later, in August, cable end equipment was deployed from the Commissioner of Irish Lights vessel ILV Granuaile. The new marine research infrastructure will allow ocean energy developers to monitor how their devices perform in the ocean and will give ocean researchers unique real-time access to monitor ongoing changes in the marine environment.
In MAY, we had a visit from The Prince of Wales. During his visit, May 19th, Prince Charles met Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Minister Simon Coveney, Marine Institute CEO, Dr. Peter Heffernan, as well as many of our staff who he talked to about their work analysing the impact of climate change on the ocean, sustainable fisheries, marine bio-discovery and international collaboration on ocean research.
In JUNE, a Marine Institute led multinational team mapped a transect of the Atlantic Ocean on the RV Celtic Explorer as part of the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance. Among the new features mapped by Thomas Furey and his team from the U.S., Canada and Europe (Ireland and Portugal) was a subsea mountain taller than Carrauntoohill, Ireland’s highest mountain.
While the Celtic Explorer was in its home port in Galway (10th June), we took the opportunity to bring over 150 primary school students from five schools from Dublin, Cork, Galway, and Mayo aboard to meet our scientists and learn about life on a National Research Vessel. This was part of the EU FP7 Sea for Society project to promote engagement on societal issues related to the ocean.
JULY saw SeaFest attract 10,000 thousand visitors to Ringaskiddy to celebrate Ireland’s marine and maritime heritage. We’re already looking forward to SeaFest 2016 in Galway which will take place from the 30th June to the 3rd July. See www.ouroceanwealth.ie
The Cullen Fellowship Programme was launched during SeaFest. Set up in memory of Anne Cullen (1958 - 2013), who made a significant contribution to the work of the Marine Institute over 35 years, it provides research training opportunities for scientists in marine and related disciplines leading to Masters and PhD degrees.
In AUGUST, we moved office. Our Dublin office moved from 80 Harcourt Street to Wilton Park House, Wilton Place, Dublin 2, where the Irish Maritime Development Office is now based.
In SEPTEMBER the Marine Institute Singers performed at the National Concert Hall to win Workplace Choir of the Year directed by Choirmaster Carmel Dooley.
In OCTOBER Dr Ruth Plets, School of Environmental Sciences at Ulster University, led a team on the RV Celtic Voyager, to capture detailed images of World War I shipwrecks in the Irish Sea. Some of the ships mapped are too deep to be dived on and had not been seen in 100 years.
In NOVEMBER, Dr Jens Carlsson, University College Dublin, and his team on the RV Celtic Explorer discovered a field of carbonate chimneys supporting a range of deep-sea life during an expedition to research mud volcanoes in the Gulf of Cadiz.
During Science Week we welcomed more than 300 transition year students to our HQ in Oranmore, 12th November, as part of the Galway Science & Technology Festival, and the Sea for Society FP7 project. They met our scientists and staff to learn about the wide variety of work we do, and how the science of the sea impacts on our daily lives, for example the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the water we drink.
In DECEMBER we presented the Annual Stock Book 2015 to Simon Coveney, T.D, Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine ahead of the important Council of Ministers meeting in Brussels (14-15 December), during which EU Fishing opportunities for 2016 are set.
A study showing climate change is rapidly warming the world’s lakes, threatening freshwater supplies and ecosystems, was published 16th December in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The Global analyses from more than 60 scientists included unique long term data from the Marine Institute's catchment research facility, Newport, Co. Mayo.
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