Marlin Spikin’ Miller sets sail once more!

The Roberts Family say their goodbyes to Marlin Spikin' Miller as she sets sail once more. Photograph by Jacqui Degan

Marine Institute researchers assisted Marine Technology students of the Cape Fear Community College, by deploying the Marlin Spikin’ Miller from the Marine Institute’s RV Celtic Explorer last Sunday, 20th March.

The students in Cape Fear Community College’s boat building programme spent two months building Marlin Spikin’ Miller. The programme is unique in its kind and is part of a project in which a handful of schools across the USA are included.

The boat is a miniature fibreglass sailboat designed to journey with the ocean winds and currents. It is embedded with a small satellite transmitter mounted on the deck and sends back data to the students which they use to monitor ocean and wind currents. Since its maiden voyage in June 2015, it has travelled 6,000 miles across the Atlantic from North Carolina.

The crew aboard the Marine Institute's RV Celtic Explorer relaunch the boat during their blue whiting survey. Photograph by Niall KeoghThe boat was discovered by Graham Roberts and his son, while out kayaking, on Illaunurra Island off the coast of Connemara, Galway and contained instructions to contact Jacqui, a marine science instructor at Cape Fear Community College. Jacqui credited the survival of the vessel to the craftsmanship of the boat building students at Cape Fear Community College. 

Ciaran O’ Donnell, Marine Institute said “we are delighted to have this opportunity to play a role in this project and will look forward to seeing where the vessel will end up next”.

The Celtic Explorer departed on the blue whiting survey on the 18th March and launched the Marlin Spikin’ Miller at 51 12'N, 15 59'W, the most south-westerly point of the survey off the coast of ireland.

Chief scientist Graham Johnston said, “The Marlin Spikin’ Miller is sailing again. We re-launched her from our most south-westerly point. Who knows where she'll go next...”.

Marlin Spikin' Miller sets sail once more. Photograph by Niall Keogh

The survey is being carried out in collaboration with vessels from the Netherlands (IMARES), the Faroes (FRS) and Norway (Inst Mar Res). The survey will run over 3 weeks and will assess the size of the spawning stock of blue whiting in western waters. Ireland has participated in the International survey programme since 2004. 

Acoustic data, age and maturity of blue whiting samples from all participants are combined to provide a measure of the relative abundance of the blue whiting stock. The annual abundance estimate and stock numbers at age are presented to the ICES Working Group of Widely Distributed Stocks (WGWIDE)



Follow the survey at for more updates from the scientists over the coming week.

You can also monitor the tracking of the Marlin Spikin’ Miller here: