Wildlife Offshore West of Ireland

Hi dear followers!

We are the biologists of the mission: Benoît Geelhand de Merxem, a master student in ‘Biology of organisms and Ecology’ and collaborator of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS) for this mission, and Yves Laurent, a research technician working for the OD Nature of the RBINS, in the Conservation Biology Team.

Our mission here is to avoid disturbing the cetaceans by the noise needed for the seismic studies run by the geologists of the mission, so we have to check the absence of any of them one hour before the start of the study. In the same time, we count the cetaceans seen and (try to) determine their species. When the vessel is sailing at 8 knots, we also count birds. If the vessel is sailing under this speed, the probability of multiple countings of the same bird is too high.

Today’s mission: test of the ROV. After a number of technical issues our super engineer Robin can test it in Bantry Bay. As you can see on the pictures below, it’s quite an operation to get it into the water. Two tests were carried out to have the best possible configuration of the ROV: it can only be used in good conditions (calm sea and not too windy weather), so let’s hope that we can use it on the study site.

ROV on deck

The VLIZ ROV ‘Genesis’ on deck

Genesis flying out of its cage in Bantry Bay

Genesis flying out of its cage in Bantry Bay

For us it’s a great thing to be here because of the number of species already seen. For some species it was the first time we saw them like two beautiful long-tailed skua’s. It’s also nice to see pelagic species impossible to see from the land such as the storm petrel or our friend the fulmar. We also appreciate the tasty food and the beautiful landscapes of Ireland.

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