Galway is soon to become a central point for marine researchers worldwide as an Ocean Observatory will be available to scientists early next year. It can’t be seen with the naked eye, but this new ocean observatory located on the sea bed off Spiddal represents the peak of marine technology.
The development has been ongoing for the past 10 years but it is now in its final stages. All the hard work by the team at the Marine Institute and other partner government agencies will fully come to fruition in the next few months.
Alan Berry, who manages the ocean energy programme at the Marine Institute explains, â€œA test site in Galway Bay allowed us to test wave energy devices and new marine technologies in real sea conditions. This was the start.â€
The equipment has been installed in the Galway Bay test site, which is an area 1.5km off Spiddal pier and is used primarily to test small scale ocean energy devices. This observatory equipment will allow ocean energy developers to monitor how their devices are performing in the ocean as well as give ocean researchers unique real-time access to monitor ongoing changes in the marine environment.
The ocean observatory is located at the back of the secondary school in Spiddal. Mr Berry commends the board of management and the school’s principal for their help in setting up the observatory.
â€œBack in April, we installed a telecommunication cable from the secondary school in Spiddal out to the pier to the test site. This now provides us with measurements that come from the observatory back to the institute.
â€œOnce fully operational, scientists from around the world will be able to hook into the observatory and test their marine instruments and technologies to see if they are viable. The observatory and cables will pick up all sea life from underwater noise, speed of current, fish that are tagged among a host of other sea activity.â€
The ocean observatory will enable the use of cameras, probes and sensors to permit continuous and remote live underwater monitoring. Data from the equipment will be fed via an underwater cable, which was deployed last April, to the Marine Institute where analysis will take place. Data from the observatory will also be available online through the Digital Ocean Platform under development by the Marine Institute.
For anyone who is interested in marine life, all these activity can be seen in high definition as an underwater cable captures all the footage and it is relayed in real time across the web.
The Marine Institute at Oranmore is a government agency and was set up in 1991 and now employs 190 people. Their role is to co-ordinate and promote research and development and to take on a regulatory and advisory role for the government. The institute manages two vessels, from which they do research and monitoring activity. One of the main roles is to provide advice to the government in terms of fish stocks for European negotiations. The Institute employs scientists, administration staff and IT staff. The Institute manages the waters for the whole country.
The new Galway Bay Subsea Observatory is a huge development in their work and it is one of a handful in the world, and the only one of its kind in Ireland.
All the information it collects will be available to the public.
â€œThis is truly ground breaking. Next month we will be further checking the IT elements of the observatory and making sure we are seeing everything. Next year, a full suite of instruments will be operating at the observatory and all the information recorded will be available to the public from then. We will be pushing this information out into the wider world.
â€œThis is about marine development and research. Scientists from around the world will be in a position to use the service and test their equipment and come up with new ideas. Promoting marine research is a vital part of what this is about.â€
For more information, see www.oceanenergyireland.ie.
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