The Polarstern - Victor6000 ARK XIX3a Research Cruise June 2003

Polarstern cruise outline
Image of Lophelia © IFREMER 2003
A representative from the GSI's National Seabed Survey team - Mr. Xavier Monteys - was part of a prestigious international research cruise in Irish waters during June 2003. This was the Polar Stern - VICTOR ARK XIX 3a cruise of the Porcupine Seabight and the southern part of the Rockall Trough. An international team of scientists including some from Ireland, France and Germany came together in a multi-disciplinary force to carry out research on the spectacular carbonate mounds and associated deep water corals off the west coast of Ireland.
From 2-20 June the scientists focused their attentions on the biology of the cold water corals and the evolution of the massive deep water carbonate mounds in both areas. It is important for scientists to understand the sedimentary environment and geological evolution of such features. A series of nine dives were completed amassing a total of 220 hours of video footage of these amazing living beings and structures. The world's most advanced underwater robot, the ROV VICTOR 6000, was used during this cruise. IFREMER is the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea. All images here are copyright © IFREMER 2003
Deep Sea Hairy Monster!
Image of deepwater fauna © IFREMER 2003
Deep sea Atlantic Coral - Lophelia
Image of Lophelia © IFREMER 2003
The involvement of GSI was crucial to the success of the research undertaken during the cruise since it was GSI that provided the high resolution bathymetry data that facilitated the most efficient site selection and planning for each of the dives. Thanks is also due to the excellent crew of the Polarstern for their examplary hospitality and support over the course of the cruise.
There have been other research cruises in the past in Irish waters that studied the existence of carbonate mounds and deep sea coral including e.g. ECOMOUND, and this cruise has built on information gleaned from these surveys. Data resulting from the cruise is now available to participating Irish organisations including GSI, NUI Galway, UCC and UCD. Analysis of the data is ongoing but already we are sure that there is a large diversity of organisms existing in and around the mounds.
Stylaster sp
Image of Stylaster sp © IFREMER 2003


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