Finn Ni Fhaolain
I was so excited to get the call from Andy (Wheeler) earlier in the year to join him and a great group of scientists from around the country for a research cruise to the Porcupine Bank Canyon Mounds. The mounds are about 300km due west of Dingle on the edge of the continental shelf. This area holds personal significant as it was my research area many moons ago for my thesis project in UCC with Andy as my supervisor.
For myself and most of the scientific crew this was our first time on the vessel the ILV Granuaile so day one was getting familiarised with where everything is and getting our safety tour. Add pics of survival suits. The Granuaile is owned by Irish Lights so her usual work is servicing and supplying the lighthouses around the country. She also looks after the weather buoys around the coast. I’m a big fan! As the charts generated from these buoys data are what surfers use for the surf forecast.
This cruise is all about getting high def imaging of the cold water coral mound habitats, with a bit of coring and some CTD profiling for good measure. The Holland 1 ROV has an amazing array of features, but for this mission we’re interested in its high definition video camera and the stills camera which will be used to recorded predefined lined running up the Porcupine Bank Canyon from the deep sea to the plateau at the top. This allows us to observe the change of habitat with depth (and other conditions) between, mud, rocky outcrops, coral rubble, coral mounds and areas of live coral reef. While we get most excited seeing coral and fish, its important to get a look at all the habitats so we can better understand the mechanisms of the entire canyon system. The CTD (conductivity, temperature and depth sensor) will be used to profile the water column of the canyon and allow us to observe the different water masses.
Onboard we have the crew of the Granuaile who’ve been so welcoming and I’ve already found a fellow surfer, next the ROV (remotely operated vehicle) team from the Marine Institute who look after the Holland 1 ROV and finally there is the scientists a mash up of UCC, GMIT and me!