Final #QuERCi Post

Hi again from the RV Celtic Explorer! Here is the final update on board, and a summary, as we have now reached the end of the cruise! We have completed our transit back to Galway and, as I write, can see land on the horizon again for the first time in almost two weeks! Back to civilisation once more, as blue skies and a calm sea welcome us home with the coastline coming into view!

Niamh Connolly (myself) on-board the RV Celtic Explorer!

Niamh Connolly (myself) on-board the RV Celtic Explorer!

 

On deck view of the horizon just off Galway Bay

On deck view of the horizon just off Galway Bay

Here is a quick overview of the exciting events that occurred on the Celtic Explorer throughout the cruise across the Western Porcupine Seabight in the North Atlantic Ocean off the west coast of Ireland!

Our first location was the Moira Mounds in the Belgica Mound Province. Here we collected incredible multibeam data to produce detailed topographic maps of the seabed in this region. Seismic profiles of the internal structures of the mounds and seabed (sub-bottom profiles) were also produced, using the CHIRP, of mounds at approx. 840m water depth.

Also, using the multibeam mounted on the ROV we were able to create an even higher resolution map of the Piddington Mound topography, slopes and sedimentary features as well as the other mounds surrounding it! These datasets will hopefully lead to many more windows for discovery and research in the near future as we continue to increase our understanding of these deep sea systems!

 

The ROV being deployed

The ROV being deployed

The ROV was then used to also create a mosaic using live footage of the seafloor on the Piddington Mound, producing the first images ever seen in this area! Below are just some of the wonderful scenes captured with the HD camera mounted on the ROV.

Multibeam echosounder profile of the Porcupine Bank Canyon; showing the steep sides of the canyon and coral mounds at the top

Multibeam echosounder profile of the Porcupine Bank Canyon; showing the steep sides of the canyon and coral mounds at the top

A collection of some of the images gathered from the Moira Mounds; Top left: Flytrap deep sea anemone, Lophelia pertusa and glass sponges, Top right: Lophelia pertusa (pale pink) and deep sea cnidaria, soft coral (Alcyonacea [red]), Bottom Left: sea urchin, dead Lophelia pertusa and gorgonocephalus (on top of Lophelia pertusa), along with more glass sponges (white/transparent), Bottom right: deep sea fish surrounded by living and dead Lophelia pertusa

A collection of some of the images gathered from the Moira Mounds; Top left: Flytrap deep sea anemone, Lophelia pertusa and glass sponges, Top right: Lophelia pertusa (pale pink) and deep sea cnidaria, soft Some images gathered from the Porcupine Bank Canyon; Top left: Black Coral (red), dead and living Lophelia pertusa, and a crinoid (yellow), Top right: Leiopathes (large black coral colony, orange) and Lophelia pertusa, Bottom left: A crinoid, Bottom right; sea star.

Moving swiftly onto our second location, the Porcupine Bank Canyon produced more incredible results and data! The multibeam and ROV multibeam created another intriguing bathymetric profile of the submarine canyon and its channels reaching just over 2km water depth at the bottom and around 700m water depth at the top, with the mounds! From this, an efficient dive plan was created (with some room for exploration on the way), and even with that we weren’t sure exactly what we would find! We weren’t disappointed with the incredible scenes that faced us!

A collection of some of the images gathered from the Moira Mounds; Top left: Flytrap deep sea anemone, Lophelia pertusa and glass sponges, Top right: Lophelia pertusa (pale pink) and deep sea cnidaria, soft coral (Alcyonacea [red]), Bottom Left: sea urchin, dead Lophelia pertusa and gorgonocephalus (on top of Lophelia pertusa), along with more glass sponges (white/transparent), Bottom right: deep sea fish surrounded by living and dead Lophelia pertusa

Some gravity cores were also attempted at this location but were unsuccessful unfortunately!! However, we made up for it by taking a few smaller box cores, composed of surface sediment which will be used for analysis in the lab on shore.

Another exciting aspect to this cruise was the experimentation with the drill mounted on the ROV. This also had never been attempted before so anticipation was high as we tentatively watched the ROV use the drill to bore into the solid rock wall! Thankfully we were successful and managed to retrieve a 20cm core through a calcite vein from a vertical rock face, proving that this technique has the potential to be used in other locations, depths and possibly different rock types, with more experimentation to determine the right size and composition of the drill and core equipment for a given area or situation! Therefore, ending the cruise on an extremely positive note!

Overall, the cruise has been a very successful one, with our knowledge and appreciation heightened for these cold water coral carbonate mound features, and also the complex ecosystem and environmental interactions!

For me personally, it has been a memorable and extremely valuable experience not only learning the scientific expertise behind these research expeditions but also the endless work of the crew, engineers and catering staff who allow everything to run smoothly and remain on track!

 

QuERCi scientists (left to right): Edel O’Donnell, Romano Capucci, Dr. Chris McGonigle, Ken O’Sullivan, Andy Wheeler, Kevin Power, Graham Ryan, Luca Crippa, Raissa Hogan, Arie Van Der Assam, Agostina Vertino,Niamh Connolly, Eileen McCarthy, Aaron Lim.

QuERCi scientists (left to right): Edel O’Donnell, Romano Capucci, Dr. Chris McGonigle, Ken O’Sullivan, Andy Wheeler, Kevin Power, Graham Ryan, Luca Crippa, Raissa Hogan, Arie Van Der Assam, Agostina Vertino,Niamh Connolly, Eileen McCarthy, Aaron Lim.

 

Cruise photo of the officers, crew, scientists and the ROV team

Cruise photo of the officers, crew, scientists and the ROV team

 

 

Goodbye from the RV Celtic Explorer and hopefully you have enjoyed tracking the progress and events of this cruise and research vessel!

 

Niamh Connolly, 3rd Year Earth Science, Bsc, UCC.

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QuERCi Update Seven

Niamh Connolly, 3rd Year, Earth Science, BSc, UCC

Keeping you posted on the progress of the RV Celtic Explorer! There has been exciting times recently on-board! Our run of incredible weather conditions continues which has greatly helped our data collection!

smlOn-deck viewUsing the multibeam echosounder data, Aaron Lim (PhD student) was skilfully able to create a detailed bathymetric map showing delicate features of the floor of the canyon in the Porcupine Bank. This allowed us to make a detailed dive plan for the enthusiastic biologists and geologists to watch this seafloor canyon come to life. The deepest point of the canyon reaches a water depth of just over 2,000m, while the ridges at the top are at approximately 700m. You can get an idea of the percipitous terrain.

 

Multibeam bathymetric map produced of the Porcupine Bank Canyon margin where coral mounds occur above a steep, sometimes vertical canyon walls (courtesy of Aaron Lim)

Multibeam bathymetric map produced of the Porcupine Bank Canyon margin where coral mounds occur above a steep, sometimes vertical canyon walls (courtesy of Aaron Lim)

Throughout this extensive dive, HD video footage and photographs were gathered as we wandered our way through the mysteries of this never before seen canyon floor.

Some crinoids and a small brittle star finding their home on a dropstone at the lower part of the Canyon channel

Some crinoids and a small brittle star finding their home on a dropstone at the lower part of the Canyon channel

We were interested to see what kind of life inhabited these areas and if the coral ecosystems and mounds we found earlier had also colonised the face of the cliff near the top of the Porcupine Bank Canyon. The deepest parts of the canyon were littered with sea pens and crinoids, much to the delight of our biologists on-board!

smlA crab, some black corals

A massive colony of black coral (Leiopathes sp.) attached to the hard surface of the cliff face

As for the cliff face of the canyon, with everyone glued to the live video feed, we were left amazed at the sheer extent and size of coral coverage found here! Massive coral colonies reaching out and thriving suggesting that they are taking advantage of the nutrients possibly upwelling from colder, deeper depths and carried by strong currents. A wonderful sight that couldn’t be missed!

Different species colonising the rock cliff face of the Canyon; Madrepora oculata (orange), Lophelia pertusa (whitish), black corals (red and orange [Leiopathes sp.]), black corals: Stichopathes sp. (yellow) and a few glass sponges (round and transparent-like in appearance)

Different species colonising the rock cliff face of the Canyon; Madrepora oculata (orange), Lophelia pertusa (whitish), black corals (red and orange [Leiopathes sp.]), black corals: Stichopathes sp. (yellow) and a few glass sponges (round and transparent-like in appearance)

smlA crab, some black corals

A crab, some black corals, dead and living Lophelia, Madrepora (white), black coral (orange), and bamboo coral (Paramuricea sp. [yellow]) covering the cliff face of the Porcupine Bank Canyon (what a sight!)

 

A crinoid sampled and preserved in ethanol

A crinoid sampled and preserved in ethanol

 

Deploying a gravity core to take sediment samples through a coral carbonate mound

Deploying a gravity core to take sediment samples through a coral carbonate mound

We have attempted to gather several gravity cores, but so far, unfortunately, they have been unsuccessful! However, we will continue to try and get sediment samples through the seabed near these intriguing cold-water coral mounds!

Our transit home will also begin shortly! Even though we are all excited to get home, our time spent in the Atlantic Ocean and the Porcupine Seabight has been an entertaining, insightful and thoroughly enjoyable experience, and at times almost too short! I hope to be back soon!

A massive thank you to Andy Wheeler, Aaron Lim and all the crew that made this cruise on the RV Celtic Explorer possible and such a great experience!!

Niamh Connolly, 3rd Year, Earth Science, Bsc, UCC.

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QuERCi Update 6: Taking a closer look

Keeping you up to date on the progress of the RV Celtic Explorer, the sea remains relatively calm. From sunrises to sunsets there are some spectacular scenes to be witnessed, and that’s just above the surface! Many more wonderful scenes have been discovered at deeper depths!

A sunset view from the bow of the ship

A sunset view from the bow of the ship

The transit to the Porcupine Bank Canyon went smoothly, thankfully, and the swell didn’t pick up as much as expected! Sunny skies now mean life on-board is quite good, with a tropical feeling and clear blue water in the Atlantic Ocean!!

Here are some of the samples collected by the ROV on the last dive and brought on to the ship for sampling and preservation, for further analysis once we reach the shore.

 

Collected samples of Lophelia pertusa (orange, LHS) and a Hydroid (RHS)

Collected samples of Lophelia pertusa (orange, LHS) and a Hydroid (RHS)

 

A crinoid being photographed before sampling and preservation

A crinoid being photographed before sampling and preservation

Following those exciting discoveries in the Moira Mounds we swiftly moved on to the next location; the Porcupine Bank Canyon. Here, the team has worked until all hours to collect the ship based and ROV multibeam data of the canyon, which is slow and tedious work but should produce incredible results!

The edge of the canyon starts at 700m water depth and then steeply sloping down to reach 4,700 m which is an incredible water depth and the deepest we have come across so far on this cruise! The Porcupine Bank Canyon measures 20km in width and 100km in length! This is one of the largest canyons in this region.

The data collected from the ROV multibeam is now being processed to produce an incredibly detailed map of this canyon which will hopefully reveal features we haven’t seen here yet! on the first run the multibeam on the ROV flies at 100m above the seabed, the second one is more detailed, running at 20m from the seafloor.

Map showing the study area of the Porcupine Bank Canyon

Map showing the study area of the Porcupine Bank Canyon

 

From there video footage will be gathered from the canyon and surrounding ridges, which are possibly scattered with coral carbonate mounds from the upwelling of colder water from depth. Again, this will be the first visual footage of this area and anticipation is building as we are excited to see if our suspicions are right! Hopefully we are!

Pilot whales investigating the Celtic Explorer on their travels!>

Pilot whales investigating the Celtic Explorer on their travels!

Amazingly, even with all that excitement we still managed to spot a pod of pilot whales investigating the ship, spy hopping and circling the vessel to get a good look! How lucky we are!

Niamh Connolly, 3rd Year, Bsc, UCC.

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Views from the ocean floor: QuERCi update 5

Niamh Connolly, 3rd Year Earth Science, BSc, UCC.

Hi again from the Celtic Explorer! Here is another update on the adventures unfolding so far. It was a misty start to the morning with winds picking up creating a slight swell, nonetheless, it didn’t dampen our spirits and conditions remain comfortable!

An air of excitement surrounds the ship as we continue to gather more incredible data! Working tirelessly, the team has managed to create the beginnings of a mosaic map using ROV multibeam bathymetric data obtained yesterday.

ROV obtained multibeam topographic map showing the profusion of Moira Mounds in this area, more than known before

ROV obtained multibeam topographic map showing the profusion of Moira Mounds in this area, more than known before

One of the Moira Mounds, the Piddington Mound, was meticulously scanned along 50 lines of overlapping high definition video. This will then be mosaiced and drapped over the topography to produce a virtual 3D mound 40m across which can be zoomed in on to a cm resolution.

The ROV now travels at 0.5 m above the seabed for a exploration dive with cameras forward facing exploring all the over mounds, which means our biologists are very excited as we can start sampling too! It’s incredible to see the amount of life covering the seafloor even at depths of 945 m; it’s still teeming with life! Even more exciting is the fact that we were lucky enough to be the first people ever to see it!

 The ROVs robotic arm collect an Antipatharian (black coral) Stichopathy sp. from one of the Moira Mounds. Also visible are white glass sponges, Madrepora oculata (calcareous coral) and (bottom right) an octocoral (Alcyonacea)

The ROVs robotic arm collect an Antipatharian (black coral) Stichopathy sp. from one of the Moira Mounds. Also visible are white glass sponges, Madrepora oculata (calcareous coral) and (bottom right) an octocoral (Alcyonacea)

Fitted with robotic arms, the ROV is readily equipped for collecting pieces of coral, sponges, crinoids and an abundance of other organisms needed for investigation, analysis and identification.

Manipulating the ROV is slow and careful work, but well worth the effort in collecting amazing samples and also doing as little damage to these habitats as possible. This will hopefully allow us to better understand environmental and ecosystem interactions of these complex systems. As the deep sea is so poor studied the chance of finding new species is a distinct possibility! Exciting stuff!

Here’s a stingray

Here’s a stingray

 

The ROV securing a sample of coral rubble with an octocoral attached in collection boxes. The large bolder is colonised by large barnacles. Laser dots are 11cm apart. The boulder fell to the seabed from a melting iceberg over 10,000 years ago.

The ROV securing a sample of coral rubble with an octocoral attached in collection boxes. The large bolder is colonised by large barnacles. Laser dots are 11cm apart. The boulder fell to the seabed from a melting iceberg over 10,000 years ago.

Here is a quick snapshot of some of the incredible scenes from the seafloor and these cold-water coral carbonate mounds capturing a dynamic environment that is constantly changing!

A view over the top of a small carbonate mound showing Madrepora oculate and Lophelia pertusa calcareous corals, white glass sponges and yellow octocorals

A view over the top of a small carbonate mound showing Madrepora oculate and Lophelia pertusa calcareous corals, white glass sponges and yellow octocorals

Close up view of a coral framework (Lophelia pertusa). Note the shrimp bottom left, barnacles top right and a sneeky crabs claw upper left. Red laser dots 11cm apart.

Close up view of a coral framework (Lophelia pertusa). Note the shrimp bottom left, barnacles top right and a sneeky crabs claw upper left. Red laser dots 11cm apart.

The thick density of the coral framework allows it to trap sediment and provides an environment for other corals and sponges to inhabit, among other organisms.

A range of living/dead coral (Lophelia pertusa and Madrepora oculata) with sponges and a beautiful orange sea anenome in their habitat

A range of living/dead coral (Lophelia pertusa and Madrepora oculata) with sponges and a beautiful orange sea anenome in their habitat

Interactions between different species: a Gorgonocephalus climbing on an Alcyonacea octocoral coral.

Interactions between different species: a Gorgonocephalus climbing on an Alcyonacea octocoral coral.

We will shortly begin our transit to the next exciting location; the submarine canyons of the Porcupine Bank, where more wonders need to be discovered! Can’t wait!

 

 

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Adventures in seabird monitoring

Firstly – I think it’s appropriate to introduce myself, my name is Gavin Arneill and I am a PhD student in the school of BEES. My project is funded by the NPWS and aims to develop and assess a monitoring strategy for Puffins, Manx Shearwaters and Storm Petrels.

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Why is this important? To use an example close to home, for the past 3 years Marine Biology MSc. students have carried out population censuses on Manx Shearwaters under the supervision of Prof. John Quinn. The results of these projects demonstrated the lack of accurate population estimates for Manx Shearwaters in Ireland. These inaccuracies are largely due to the fact that estimating the population size of burrow nesting seabirds is difficult because (a) you can’t see occupied sites and (b) 2 of the 3 species only come to land at night. My project aims to test the effectiveness of existing methods and develop the most effective strategy for future monitoring.

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The field season has started off great, with the first trip to High island off the Connemara coast. The site hosts a population of both Manx Shearwaters and Storm Petrels, as well as a number of other seabirds. Dave Whelan, a marine biology MSc student, and myself worked on estimating the size of the Manx shearwater population by carrying out plackback surveys over the entire island. Additionally, acoustic recorders were deployed in areas around the island to record the calls of both Manx Shearwaters and Storm petrels throughout the night.

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Right now, I am on Great Saltee island off the Wexford coast using time-lapse and motion sensor cameras to test how effective they are at determining the size of Puffin populations. This trip has been particularly interesting as the number of Puffins on the island has increased considerably compared to when I carried out my fieldwork for my undergraduate honours project here. On top of the camera work, we are looking at the number of Puffins rafting around the island everyday.

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It’s great that UCC seabird research group (or whatever we decide to call ourselves) is becoming a very solid entity in the school of BEES. The outputs from the current and future projects are going to make a considerable difference in our understanding and conservation of Irish seabirds.

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Celtic Explorer Update 4: 15 June 2015

Here’s another update on the exciting times on-board the RV Celtic Explorer! Sea conditions remain incredibly calm and early morning starts are no tough task when you can enjoy spectacular 6am sunrises like this!

Vivid morning sunrise across the Atlantic Ocean

Vivid morning sunrise across the Atlantic Ocean

Yesterday we managed to collect some ship’s hull-mounted MBES (multibeam) data to investigate the full western extent of the Moira Mounds. However, we won’t know the results until this data has been processed, but it is an exciting prospect!

The tedious and ambitious task of trying to get two gravity cores of one of the smaller mounds unfortunately were not successful as it is quite difficult to hit a target 20m across in almost 1km of water and while also fighting currents, despite gallant efforts by the QuERCi team.

ROV Control room (it’s a tight fit!)

ROV Control room (it’s a tight fit!)

The ROV control room was a hive of activity during the early hours of the morning and throughout the day as a downward facing HD camera was placed on the ROV, recording video footage and photographs of the habitats and ecosystems colonising the Piddington Mound. At 970m below the sea surface, there is no light reaching these depths, however, we are lucky enough to illuminate this darkness for a few minutes to get an amazing glimpse of this hidden world!

Photo of Piddington Mound taken from ROV HD camera

Photo of Piddington Mound taken from ROV HD camera

This cold-water coral carbonate mound is completely covered with a range of different corals, sponges, crabs and several species of fish. The ROV is hovering at 3m above the surface of this mound (at one stage almost coming in close contact with an unsuspecting octopus!).

This footage will be used to create a virtual map (mosaic) of this area. Our next task is to take samples of organisms and sediment (using box cores) for analysis in the lab from an adjacent area.

During our time off, we have also taken up whale watching and spotting a few jets of spray rising above an otherwise flat, calm ocean surface. The jets of spray are blows from the whales and we got photos of whales breaching (jumping out of the water) in the distance. Photo ID suggests they are beaked whales which have only been sighted a few times in Irish waters. We really know so little about the deep ocean.

Further updates to come, keeping you posted on the progress on-board!

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QuERCi Project: First data collected

Life on-board the RV Celtic Explorer continues! The weather couldn’t be better with sunny skies and calm sea conditions like a lake at the moment which means working conditions are kept very comfortable alongside freshly caught Mackerel for breakfast every morning!

Holland I_2

The Holland I ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) being deployed to map the cold-water coral reefs

There has been a slightly tense atmosphere on-board with frustrating calibration problems with the equipment but now we are collecting our multibeam data. It was well worth the wait as the data is incredible. The multibeam, which is mounted on the ROV, is travelling 190 m above the seabed and mapping a swath width of 300 m of seabed at a resolution never ever done before. We are finding reefs at nearly 1 km below the sea surface never seen by humans. Amazing!!

Piloting the ROV and monitoring the datafeeds from the ROV shack. Far left: Aaron Lim (BEES PhD students), next to Aaron is Kevin Power BSc International Field Geosciences 4th year Student.

Piloting the ROV and monitoring the datafeeds from the ROV shack. Far left: Aaron Lim (BEES PhD student), next to Aaron is Kevin Power BSc International Field Geosciences 4th year Student.

Using software to process this data, the cold-water coral carbonate mounds (reefs) can be identified along with the sediment waves that surround them. In some parts we can also possibly see the start of new reefs with corals colonising the sand waves, which may then accumulate more sediment and continue to grow. Also, the types of sediment waves imaged indicate the strength of currents running over and around these mounds.

Processed ROV multibeam data showing coral carbonate mounds (reefs) surrounded by scours and sediment waves. The mounds are 8m tall.

Processed ROV multibeam data showing coral carbonate mounds (reefs) surrounded by scours and sediment waves. The mounds are 8m tall.

Excitement increases as we gather detailed mapping data of the mound clusters in the Porcupine Seabight, which makes up for long hours of scanning the seabed!

Up next, is to find the full extent of the Moira Mounds using the multibeam mounted to the bottom of the ship and find out how far west these mounds extend! So more exciting news to come!

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RV Celtic Explorer

Hello again from the RV Celtic Explorer. My name is Niamh Connolly and I am a third year Earth Science BSc student in UCC. I am excited to have been given the chance to experience life at sea on board this research vessel and to see what we will find as the research survey continues.

RVCelticExplorer600

Our ship: the RV Celtic Explorer

It’s great to set sail and get started on our work investigating the seabed and cold-water coral carbonate mounds. The first few days have been calm which really helps you to get used to the movement of the ship and being away offshore for a while. But so far so good! And there is great food on-board which makes life even better!

On the second day at sea, we have travelled about 120 km offshore from Dingle to the Moira Mounds in the Belgica Mound Province, Porcupine Seabight. Here, we used the multibeam echosounder to look at the topography of the seabed and get a better idea of the amount and type of features found on the seafloor that are formed by currents and the transport of sediment and of course find cold-water coral reefs!

As well as the multibeam, the brand new state-of-the-art CHIRP echo sounder on-board, named for the “chirpy-bird” sound it makes, can penetrate into the seabed to show the different types of sediment or structures making up these features. As most of the Earth’s seabed still has to be discovered, there is much of it that we haven’t seen. The CHIRP here was used to look inside a giant cold-water coral carbonate mound. The results are fantastic and have given we think the first ever detailed view of the internal structure of this giant mound which is quite exciting! This would mean we could go back to get more information from these mounds which could reveal more about how they are formed and get a 3D view for more detail of their structure.

Today has been eventful so let’s see what tomorrow holds in store!

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Launching into the Atlantic: The QuERCi Survey

Hi from the RV Celtic Explorer, my name is Andy Wheeler and I want to tell you about the QuERCi survey (Quantifying EnviRonmental Controls on Cold-water coral reef growth).

We are going to use Ireland’s deep-water remotely-operated vehicle (the Holland I ROV) to explore two of Ireland’s deep-water Special Areas of Conservation where cold-water corals flourish. This blog will be bringing you important updates and never-before-seen imagery from the deep-sea as well as a taste of life on-board the QuERCi survey.

Life on board

The obligatory safety drill with Graham Ryan (GSI) and Eileen McCarthy (UCC) life-jacketed and Kevin Ryan (UCC) mummified in a emersion suit

At 1km below the seas off the west coast of Ireland cold-water corals thrive in the cold and dark forming reefs and giant coral carbonate mounds over 100m tall. The reefs are oases of life in the deep ocean supporting vibrant ecosystems. For these reasons, Ireland has been proactive and protected some of the reef areas from potential physical damage. To manage these areas effectively we need to monitor them and understand how the dynamic seabed environment affects reef sustainably and change. We also need to know what is there. These areas of deep are remote and poorly, and only occasionally, explored.

The Belgica Mounds SAC (120 km from Dingle) contains the Moira Mound reefs (at 1000 m water depth) which will be studied and mapped during QuERCi. The Porcupine Bank Canyon SAC (340 km from Loop Head) contains coral mounds around the head of the canyon (at 700m water depth) which we will study within the context of the canyon environment which we will also study.

Cruise Track

Our planned adventure, the SACs are in red (Belica Mounds SAC to the south and the Porcupine Bank Cayon SAC further out to the west) and the survey areas in yellow. The red dashed lined is out planned cruise track.

QuERCi will be exploring, mapping and sampling within the SACs to gain a better understanding. We will use the newly fitted state-of-the-art multibeam echosounder both on the RV Celtic Explorer and deep-towed on the ROV to give us much improved maps from within the SACs. We will also be using the ROV to groundtruth the maps by video and sample the seabed and fauna. We also plan to collect cores and image into the seabed to understand changes through time as well as study watermass properties.

ROV

The Holland I ROV being recovered near sunset in Galway Bay with Michelin keeping a close eye on operations. The 3m penetration gravity corer is stowed alongside in it craddle.

At present we are running tests with the ROV in Galway Bay before heading out into the big blue ocean tonight. Niamh Connolly, a BSc Earth Science third year student who will use data for her final year project will give a QuERCi team perspective to the upcoming blog entries. We also have Ken O’Sullivan from Sea Fever Productions who will be taking footage for an RTE documentary. Going to be exciting!

Life on board is tense at present as we are all itching to get out there!

Prof. Andy Wheeler – Chief Scientist, University College Cork

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TY2015: My week at UCC

Zac O’S-H, Midleton College      

TYwk2aSMALLI have just finished my week of work experience in the school of Biological, Earth and Environmental sciences at UCC. It was a week that I used to perhaps learn about the courses I might want to study when I leave school in two years time. I also got to learn about subjects and courses that I did not know even existed before I came here for the week.

My favourite lecture this week was in Geology and Geosciences given by Professor Andy Wheeler. It was interesting to learn about what makes up the Earth’s core and identifying different rocks and fossils in a practical with Dr. Bettie Higgs. I had not known how exciting and interesting the earth’s core and the rocks that make it up could be.

I also enjoyed learning about invasive species with Dr. Simon Harris and then watching a video about other invasive species and discussing their impacts on the native animals and plants of Macquarie Island and island mid-way between the southern tip of New Zealand and Antarctica. These invasive species were mice and rabbits which I hadn’t known could cause such problems for local wildlife as they always looked so cute and fluffy.

I was also lucky enough to get a tour of the UCC campus and the Boole Library which were both incredibly interesting and really, really big. I found this week very interesting and would advise any future Transition Year students to apply for this course next year.

 

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