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DCU Scientists on the R.V. Celtic Explorer
Monday 18 June 2007

Michal Szpak, PhD student in the School of Chemical Sciences, prepares to board the R.V. Celtic Explorer before the first leg of the 2007 INFOMAR survey off the Dingle Peninsula
Michal Szpak, PhD student in the School of Chemical Sciences, prepares to board the R.V. Celtic Explorer before the first leg of the 2007 INFOMAR survey off the Dingle Peninsula

Michal Szpak, a DCU PhD student, was part of the scientific team onboard the R.V. Celtic Explorer as part of a joint venture called INFOMAR between the Geological Survey of Ireland and the Marine Institute to map Ireland’s most productive and commercially valuable inshore waters.

Covering some 125,000 square kilometres of underwater territory, INFOMAR (INtegrated Mapping FOr the Sustainable Development of Ireland’s MARine Resource) will produce integrated mapping products covering the physical, chemical and biological features of the seabed. DCU scientists, under the supervision of Dr Brian Kelleher of the School of Chemical Sciences, will contribute to chemical aspects of the project and use the opportunity to further their research into carbon cycling in coastal areas. Dr Tim Prescott and Dr Aran Rafferty of the School of Manufacturing Engineering are also collaborating with Dr Kelleher. PhD student Michal Szpak was on board the R.V. Celtic Explorer for the first leg of the 2007 survey that was completed on May 15th, having covered an area of 2,899 square kilometres in water depths between 26 and 203 m, off the Dingle Peninsula. In near perfect sea conditions, the R.V. Celtic Explorer accurately mapped the depth and seafloor characteristics of an area similar in size to County Limerick (2,686 square km) and more than twice the size of County Dublin (921 square km).

Biologically Sensitive Area Surveyed
The area covered was within the “Biologically Sensitive Area” (BSA), designated by the EU Commission in 2003 following successful lobbying by the Irish government, fisheries scientists and industry. As such, fishing efforts in the area are restricted to a pre-specified effort as a form of protection. To further investigate the important conservation and fisheries value in the BSA, INFOMAR has targeted it for exploration of the seafloor marine resources using high resolution multibeam sonar, measuring gravity and magnetic variations, and recovering grab samples for biological, chemical and geological analysis.