The SmartBay Observatory in Galway Bay, will be brought ashore this week for essential maintenance. Last week Ocean Crest Marine with diver Mark Kerrigan prepared the Observatory for recovery, captured here by underwater cameraman Nick Pfeiffer of MERC Environmental.
The underwater observatory, located 1.5 km off the coast of Spiddal, has been continuously monitoring the underwater environment over the past fifteen months. It uses cameras, instruments and sensors for continuous live underwater observations giving ocean researchers unique real-time access to monitor ongoing changes in the marine environment.
Over the coming months, the observatory will be thoroughly cleaned, all the scientific instruments will be replaced, and new underwater lamps will be added to improve the high definition video camera footage.
"We also plan to install a micro-plastics sampling net and a new underwater stills camera in partnership with European marine science researchers," explained Alan Berry, Marine Institute.
These research projects are due to commence mid- July when the observatory will be reinstated to continue to collect important information on the marine environment from the depths of Galway Bay.
The SmartBay Observatory in Galway Bay is an important contribution by Ireland to the growing global network of real-time data capture systems deployed within the ocean – technology giving us new insights into the ocean.
Data relating to the marine environment at the site is transferred in real-time from the SmartBay Observatory through a fibre optic telecommunications cable to the Marine Institute headquarters and onwards onto the internet. The data includes a live video stream, the depth of the observatory node, the sea temperature and salinity, and estimates of the chlorophyll and turbidity levels in the water which give an indication of the volume of phytoplankton and other particles, such as sediment, in the water.