International scientists embark on expedition to investigate deep water ecosystems off Spain
Celtic Explorer expedition involves 13 scientists from Ireland, UK, Iceland and Spain
Date Article Written:
Thursday, October 22, 2015
On Saturday, 24 October, the Marine Institute operated national research vessel, the Celtic Explorer, departs from Galway on the exciting 20 day, multidisciplinary deep-sea scientific expedition “Deep-Links: Ecosystem services of deep-sea biotopes” to the Gulf of Cadiz off the Spanish coast.
Thirteen scientists including marine ecologists, geologists, geochemists and geneticists from the Marine and Freshwater Research Centre at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT), National University of Ireland Galway, Geological Survey of Ireland, University of Southampton, National Oceanographic Centre UK, Marine Research Institute Iceland and the Geological Survey of Spain will be led by Dr Jens Carlsson of University College Dublin.
This scientific expedition aims to assess the ecosystem services provided by deep-sea biotypes, mud volcanoes, sponge gardens and cold-water corals, at depths down to 1000m on the ocean floor.
“Deep-sea mud volcanoes, unlike most ecosystems, are not fuelled by sunlight derived energy but primarily by chemosynthetic primary production, which runs on chemical energy. Specifically, the expedition will investigate the role of chemosynthetic energy production for habitat diversification, biomass accumulation and biodiversity,” says GMIT Dr Conor Graham, GMIT School of Science and Computing and the GMIT Marine and Freshwater Research Centre.
“These enhanced ecosystem services, through synergy effects, have the potential for greater carbon sequestration highlighting a previously unrecognised role of linked deep-sea biotopes in global climate regulation.”
“Biological, geological and chemical samples will be collected through deploying the Marine Institute remotely operated vehicles Holland I which has a maximum diving capacity of 3,000 metres.”
This research survey is supported by the Marine Institute and is funded under the Marine Research Programme by the Irish Government.
The Marine Institute’s RV Celtic Explorer [Photo David Branigan]