Celtic Explorer 2009 – Who’s who?

In this blog entry we profile the scientists and crew of the Celtic Explorer working on this cruise, and include an interview with the ROV pilot.

Dr. Anthony Grehan
Anthony is the Chief Scientist for the cruise CE0908. A veteran of numerous deep-sea expeditions, this is the second time in recent https://coralfish.wordpress.com/wp-admin/admin.php?page=ratingsyears he has had the pleasure of leading deep-water ROV investigations aboard the Celtic Explorer (CE). On board he has the job of organising the science and technical teams at sea and liaising between them and the Captain and crew. This is an important job because while all cruises begin with ambitious science plans, working in the middle of the Atlantic with its frequent bad weather, together with technical problems with equipment mean that plans often have to be changed at sea.
Anthony is a deep-sea ecologist and his current research interests are i) assessing the status of Irish deep-water corals and developing strategies for their protection both within Irish waters and beyond, and ii) developing methodologies for the production of novel remote sensing thematic maps to aid sustainable management of Irish and European offshore resources.
Anthony is the co-ordinator of the EU CoralFISH project (www.eu-fp7-coralFISH.net). CE0908 is an important first cruise in the CoralFISH programme allowing both NUIG and IFREMER scientists to gather detailed in situ observations using the ROV of the usage by fish of the coral habitat.

Brigitte Guillaumont
Brigitte est benthologue à IFREMER, l’institut français de recherche et de l’exploitation des mer. Après avoir principalement travaillée dans le domaine côtier au développement de cartes des habitats et de la mise en place d’un réseau de surveillance de la faune et de la flore, elle a rejoint le laboratoire Environnements Profonds. Depuis un an, elle supervise les études sur les coraux profonds. Cela lui a permis d’en apprendre plus sur l’identification de la fascinante faune des profondeurs à partir d’images mais également de nouvelles technologies détudes et de programmation de campagnes à la mer.
CoralFISH est une composante majeure du programme sur les coraux dans le Golfe de Gascogne, qu’elle supervise. Elle n’a pas donc pas hésité à répondre positivement à l’invitation d’Anthony Grehan de joindre cette mission sur le Celtic Explorer dont le but est d’explorer les canyons de la pente continentale française et les longs carbonates au large de l’Irlande à l’aide d’un ROV. La compilation des d’environnement et des observations disponibles a permis de planifier des transects et les résultats fraîchement obtenus ont dépassé les espérances tant au niveau de la richesse des fonds explorés que de la qualité des images acquises.

Pascal Laffargue
Pascal is a scientist interested in benthic ecology, ichtyology and fisheries, working in the laboratory of Ecology and Modelling for Fisheries, IFREMER Nantes. His area of work is the continental shelf. Pascal’s work consists of establishing the link between environmental features and biological communities structure. One of his aims is to develop knowledge and strategies to choose and monitor protected marine areas. His work aboard the Celtic Explorer survey is to provide expertise on identification of fish species living among and around corals during ROV dives, help with data management, learn about corals ecosystem, bring back knowledge on functional use of coral areas by fish and have fun!

Anna Rengstorf
Anna is a PhD student in the Earth and Ocean Sciences Department at NUI Galway. Within the EU-Project CoralFISH she is developing habitat suitability models for cold-water corals in waters offshore Ireland. During the cruise she is collecting ROV-based video data and grab samples for her PhD project and integrating the multi-disciplinary studies on board the ship into a GIS platform.

Marie Le Guitton
Marie is a Marine Biology Masters Student from the European Institute for Sea Research located in Brest (France) but she is onboard as a student from the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research where she is doing her Masters project. Her work aboard the CoralFISH cruise consisted of mapping the distribution of deepsea corals as required by her supervisors Marc Lavaleye and Gerard Duineveld. She also analysed grab samples, carried out CTDs profiles and SAPS, and wrote the blog and the poster.

Dr. Janine Guinan
Janine is a Marine Scientist based at the Marine Institute, Galway. Whilst, she has previous experience using Remotely Operated Vessels (ROV) for habitat mapping in deep water, the CoralFISH cruise is particularly relevent to an upcoming survey when the Marine Institute’s new ROV will be used to acquire data on specific Annex 1 habitat types (EC Habitats Directive) from selected offshore deep water locations in Irish waters.

Bill Wood
Bill is a postgraduate student in the Earth and Ocean Sciences Department, National University of Ireland Galway. He is specialising in the study of palaeoenvironments and palaeoclimatology using shallow marine sediments and terrestrial sedimentary environments over the past ca. 13,000 years. His work aboard the Celtic Explorer consists of backing up video streams on DVD for post cruise processing by CoralFISH scientists, and assisting in CTD and SAPs deployment.

Damien Guilhen
Damien is a PhD student at NUI, Galway, studying physical oceanography, specifically the turbulent motion around cold-water reefs in Norway. During the night when most of the scientific crew is asleep and the ROV is on deck, he used the CTD (Conductivity, Temperature, Depth) sensor to build up a profile of the water structure over the coral mounds. This information helps to describe the water movement over the corals. Density imbalances drive current flows, which bring nutrients and to the corals.

Dave Wall
Dave Wall is a zoologist who works with Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology and the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group. Dave is currently working on the PReCAST project. PReCAST is a joint project between the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group and the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology. This three-year project (2008-2011) aims to provide robust scientific data to support conservation policy and provide guidance to state agencies in implementing national and international obligations. Under PReCAST his role is to systematically survey all cetacean species in all Irish waters over the three-year survey period. The Irish EEZ has been divided into 10 survey zones, which will be surveyed on a priority basis, based on the amount of prior survey effort within that block. Dave spends six months per annum at sea.

PReCAST is funded by the Marine Institute (through the SeaChange programme) and the National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of the Environment. For more information go to: http://www.iwdg.ie/precast/

Catherine Breheny
Catherine is a PhD student in the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences at NUIG. Her research focuses on igneous petrology, geochemistry and volcanic geology. Her work aboard the Celtic Explorer consists of editing, back up and archiving of all data collected on the ROV dive for the marine biologists. During the latter half of the cruise, CTD casts and SAPS analysis were also carried out to provide a clearer picture of the water column in and around the coral mounds.

Paula Harrison
Paula is a PhD student from University College Cork and her work involves developing tools for identifying and mapping areas likely to contain essential/preferred fish habitat in relation to deep sea corals. The main focus of her research is the use of geo-statistical analytical techniques and simulations to investigate the relationships between fish population distributions and environmental parameters.

Philip Baugh is the Master.
Brandon McGovern is a merchant seaman and the chief officer aboard the Celtic Explorer.
Patrick Kilbane and Richard O’Regan are second officers. Their work aboard the Celtic Explorer is to ensure safety and provide navigation.
Ted Sweeney is the chief engineer, Jason White, the 2nd engineer.
Gordon Furey is a senior instrumentation technician with P&O Maritime Services Ireland. He is responsible for the Bridge and dry lab instrumentation on the ship. He also covers IT and satellite communications and installs or supervises any rental or third party scientific equipment mobilised on the ship.
Paul Wray is the Electro-Technico-Officer (ETO).
Stephen Lantry is the bosun and Frank and Paddy Kenny, Micileen Faherty, Ken O’Neill are the deckhands.
Pat Codd and Louise Richards are the cooks aboard and Louise is also our steward.

Left to right: Patrick, Paddy, Jason, Frank, Micileen and Stephen.


Greme Hoyle is the ROV supervisor on board.
James McDonald is the ROV senior pilot and technician and also the funniest guy onboard.
Paul Booth is a SMD ROV consultant BsC.
Mark McCarthy is a ROV technician from the Irish Royal Navy and Steffen Klar the ROV engineer.

Interview with Greme Hoyle:

What are the main considerations during ROV deployment?
The ROV weighs 6 tonnes so lifting that amount of machinery from the deck of the ship into the water requires a number of considerations. Before deployment we look at the wind speed, surface current and wave height to ensure the conditions are right for the safety of the people working on deck, the ship and the ROV. A full suite of deck checks are carried out and this includes checking the electronics and lights, running the hydraulics, making sure the beacons are turned on. We don’t turn the lights on until the ROV is underwater as this would cause the lights to burn out.

What happens next?
We check with the bridge that they are on position with the ships DP (dynamic positioning-a computer controlled system which automatically maintains the ships position using her own propellers and thrusters) paper log/dive log. The ROV is deployed with the TMS (tether management system-manages the tether cable which is the link for electrical power and sensors on the ROV including video and telemetry). Once in the water, the pilot begins to fly the ROV from the control cabin on deck. The altimeter provides information on how far we are from seabed and depth gauge gives us water depth from the sea surface and sonar on the ROV provides a bottom return acoustic signal. Once the operating depth is reached, the ROV begins the dive transect.

Who else is in the control cabin?
A Pilot and co-pilot fly the ROV. The pilot has the joystick whilst the co-pilot monitors the instrumentation. The pilot and co-pilot work a 12 hour day working one hour off one hour on. We also have 2 scientists with us who monitor the dive and make decisions on where we go and what we look at.

Paul and James in the control room (Photo by Anna Rengstorf)

What type of equipment is on the ROV?

There are 6 cameras in total -a pilot colour zoom camera, a HDTV camera, a black and white low light camera, a digital stills camera, a downward facing camera and a rear facing camera to observe the bullet and tether. The HDTV has a HMI 400 Watt floodlight. There are two manipulator arms; one has 5 functions and the second has 7 functions and these allow for the collection of samples e.g. rocks or pieces of coral to be placed in the hydraulically operated drawers. There are also push cores, which can be used to sample soft sediment.

Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) "Holland 1" (Photo by Anna Rengstorf)

What happens after the dive?

Once the ROV is on deck the post-dive checks are carried out, the ROV is washed with freshwater. A maintenance plan ensures the ROV is constantly maintained.

Where is the ship?
The cruise is the first of two joint NUIG/IFREMER ROV expeditions which will focus on investigating hotspot ecosystems (deep-water corals on mounds and in canyons), and their interaction with fish.

Map by Anna Rengstorf

Objectives of Cruise

The objectives of the cruise are to
1. map and characterise the coral habitat in the Bay of Biscay and the west of Ireland through ROV camera transects
2. obtain depth profiles of temperature and salinity for each transect to describe the oceanographic characteristics of the area
3. collect coral specimens for genetic fingerprinting to assess the potential erosion of genetic fitness of corals due to long-term exposure to fishing patterns. Sampling of the benthos will be conducted using a grap. Live coral colonies will be sampled and all specimens maintained and preserved for analysis.
4. conduct ROV Training and Equipment Testing

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