The Marine Institute's RV Celtic Voyager has just returned to Cork harbour after the first of six INFOMAR sea bed mapping surveys planned for 2017, off the south-east coast of Ireland.
The two week seabed survey carried out its operations in the Celtic Sea south of the Waterford/Wexford coastlines. The research team involving geophysicists, geologists, marine biologists and data processors Kevin Sheehan, David O'Sullivan, Oisin McManus, Nicola O'Brien and Michael Arrigan, were tasked to accurately map the physical, chemical and biological features of the seabed area.
INFOMAR survey operations are conducted by fleet of research vessels, including the RV Celtic Voyager which is used for mapping seabed terrain in water depths between 20 - ~100m. The vessels, such as the RV Celtic Voyager, are equipped with advanced mapping technologies including state-of-the- art acoustic sonars, geophysical instrumentation and ground-truthing capabilities, as well as geophysical equipment and precise satellite positioning. "This helps to ensure data collection is of the highest possible quality across a wide range of water depths, conditions and environments, providing us with full coverage mapping of the shape and type of the seabed below," explained David O'Sullivan.
The INFOMAR survey around Ireland is one of the largest civilian seabed mapping projects in the world and aims to gather high resolution seabed data that contributes to the sustainable development of Ireland's marine resource.
As an island nation, Ireland is responsible for the sustainable management of its marine resources and it is important that accurate seabed maps are created to enable effective governance. "Gathering up-to-date information about our ocean is cognizant of ensuring we have the best available science and knowledge to inform decisions affecting our ocean, particularly in relation to fisheries management and the development of ocean energy," David O'Sullivan further said.
The INtegrated Mapping FOr the Sustainable Development of Ireland's MArine Resource (INFOMAR) programme is a joint venture between the Geological Survey of Ireland and the Marine Institute, funded by the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment.