Cork students get unique insight into marine exploration


Transition year students from Douglas Community College and Presentation College, Cork will today (5th December) get a unique insight into marine exploration with scientists from both the Marine Institute’s new Integrated Marine Exploration (IME) Team and University College Cork onboard the RV Celtic Explorer national research vessel in Cork.

During this outreach exercise funded by the MI and coordinated by UCC, the students will learn how to tell a fish’s age by extracting and dissecting its otoliths; they will measure the temperature and salinity of water at different depths, take grab samples of sediment from the seabed and learn how 3D maps of the seabed are created using the latest technology.

The IME programme was identified as a priority through Sea Change - A Marine Knowledge, research and Innovation Strategy for Ireland 2007- 2013 and is funded under the government’s Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation which also provides grant-aid for ship-time.

Tomorrow, final year undergraduate students from University College Cork will board the Celtic Explorer when they will use a combination of geophysical technology and sediment sampling equipment to ‘map’ the sea-bed and the animals that live there, using the collected data for a variety of projects.

The IME programme, which is the first of its kind, brings together a field-team of a geophysicist, benthic ecologist, sampling biologist and an oceanographer to provide dedicated training at sea for third level institutions, as well as multidisciplinary research support to both third level and industry research sectors.


Notes to Editor

The RV Celtic Explorer

The 65.5 meter-long RV Celtic Explorer has a gross tonnage of 2,425 tonnes and a maximum speed of 16 knots (although her working speed is around 10.5 knots). She is powered by a dual diesel-electric system which allows her to operate virtually silently on electric power when conducting sensitive seismic or fish stock assessment surveys that rely on sensitive acoustic equipment.

The Celtic Explorer can accommodate 19 scientists and 12 crew for up to 45 days at sea and is capable of travelling to any point on the globe. She has already undertaken survey work in the Arctic Circle and fish stock assessment in the Lesser Antiles.

Designed as a multi-purpose research vessel she can carry out a wide range of scientific studies—from fish stock assessment and oceanographic sampling, to providing a versatile and stable platform for seabed mapping and deep sea technology deployment, including underwater camera systems.

The Marine Institute

The Marine Institute was created under the Marine Institute Act in 1991 to “undertake, to co-ordinate, to promote and to assist” in the development of marine research and development in Ireland. Since its early days in Harcourt Street Dublin, it has grown into an internationally respected science body with over 220 staff, two purpose-built vessels – RV Celtic Explorer and RV Celtic Voyager, a research facility near Newport, Co. Mayo and now a brand new headquarters and laboratory on the shores of Galway Bay.

About the Integrated Marine Exploration Programme

Integrated Marine Exploration Programme has recently received funding under the Government’s Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation (SSTI) and provides grant-aided ship-time onboard the national research vessels for:

I. Higher education institutions within the island of Ireland, to provide dedicated training programmes at sea; and

II. Higher education institutions and R&D focused organisations within the island of Ireland to carry out integrated research surveys of a multidisciplinary nature.

In addition, the programme is in the process of developing a dedicated multidisciplinary field-team of scientists and technicians to support and augment field training and research activities funded through the SSTI grant-aid programme. The IME team aims to increase national capacity for conducting Marine Scientific Research by:

  • Assisting in the development and execution of dedicated training programmes onboard the Irish Research Vessels.
  • Providing the technical support to Irish Researchers to fulfil requirements for undertaking integrated research surveys.

    This field-team is comprised of Scientific and Technical Officers (STO’s) from the following disciplines, and can provide ship-based training and onboard assistance during surveys in the following areas: Sampling Biologist, Oceanographer, Geologist/Geophysicist, Benthic Ecologist, hydrographer.