My name is Eoghan Daly and welcome to my blog post from the RV Belgica, now located in a Special Area of Conservation of the same name (The Belgica SAC). We are sitting along the Irish continental margin where the deep ocean rises to meet European shelf seas, in what proves to be a very interesting part of the planet to research. I am a PhD research student with the Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences (iCRAG) based in NUI Galway near where I live on the west coast of Ireland. My research includes studying noise pollution in the ocean’s water column due to offshore seismic exploration for oil and gas. Coincidentally I have an active study site only 40 km south of where we are now surveying.
Today my colleague Aisling and I deployed an ocean current meter mooring as part of the overall project. I am interested in the present-day bottom currents in what is a very dynamic system. These currents help bring food and create conditions for growth of cold water coral reefs and mounds. This is what we call biophysical interaction. Others on-board are especially interested in how these modern currents match with those of the past where conditions were similar at various times between ice ages.
Life on-board the Belgica is great. The Naval officers and crew are highly professional yet casual and friendly by nature. Everyone has welcomed us two Irish scientists with open arms. I am getting used to the Belgian food very quickly because it is really good and there is lots of it! What fascinates me is the multilingual style of how people work here. Most seem capable of quickly switching between Flemish, French and English with ease. This reflects also the multidisciplinary nature of this cruise. It is through people with different interests working together on a common goal, that produces some of the best science, especially important in today’s world when it is needed most in the face of current changes.