Friday, 10.30 - 11pm

    Seascapes Friday 26 June 2015



    The maritime programme for this island nation presented and produced by Marcus Connaughton.


    Seascapes Friday 26th June 2015

    features the Irish Maritime Festival in Drogheda Port held last weekend featuring Tall Ship trainees ; Clogher Head RNLI Lifeboat and much more...


    Hello  and welcome aboard this week’ s edition of  your maritime programme  - last Friday night I was in Clogher Head as the sun was setting with the crew of the local RNLI  lifeboat  and their visitors to the Irish Maritime Festival in Drogheda in their vintage lifeboats from whom we’ll hear shortly  ,  its to Drogheda where the Spirit of Oysterhaven was tied up alongside the Johanna Lucretia ;  the sail training vessel The Morgenster ; The Soteria and The Vilma all there as part of a celebration of the maritime held in association with Louth County Council ; Maxol and  Drogheda Port Company  along the quayside under the soon to be fully restored viaduct the heart of the activity on Friday afternoon we met up with the Mayor of Drogheda – Paul Bell.....


    Mayor of Drogheda Paul Bell next Seascapes talked to  Michael Byrne of Sail Training Ireland whom we met first on Seascapes at the Tall Ships  in Waterford  four years ago –he talked to us about the sail trainees and the Drogheda Sail Training bursary Scheme...





    Michael Byrne of Sail Training Ireland we’ll be hearing from Gerry Brennan on next weeks edition – lets hear  now from some of the young sailors – like Zoe Doyle who wrote “Supernova” while under sail....


    One of the first people to contact Seascapes about the Irish Maritime Festival was Clogher Head Lifeboat Station  ‘s Gerry Kelly – a station I might add whose hospitality knows no bounds ..heres Gerry...


    Steve Bradley brought his vintage lifeboat “Canadian Pacific “ to the festival....



    Congratulations to the yachtsmen who sailed from Howth to Drogheda

       A particular word of thanks to Karen Devine; Jimmy Weldon ; Harbour Master Captain Martin Donnelly ;  regular listener Patsy McCloskey aboard Dowth Voyager ; composer Michael Holohan and John Philip Holland  advocate  the proprietor of Scholars Townhouse Hotel  Martin McGowan   whom we’ ll  hear from on next  week’s Seascapes ....   a parting word from Mary T Daly of Louth County Council...


     “    This  weekend   the Irish Cruiser Racing Association National Championships and the Sovereigns Cup come to a conclusion in Kinsale Yacht Club and we’ll have  a full report next Friday from David Branigan  ; we’ll be talking to Martin McGowan of Scholars Townhouse Hotel about Drogheda’s  strong links with John Philip Holland  ; and Gerry Brennan on the opportunities to sail aboard Tall Ships as we preview the Tall Ships Festival  in Belfast next weekend ; as the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta fast approaches we’ll have a preview of whats on offer and Seascape’s will be there  we’ll also hear from Dr Peter Heffernan  CEO of The Marine Institute about Sea Fest  and the remarkable scientific discoveries in recent weeks also 2nd Ocean Wealth Conference planned for Ringaskiddy  in a fortnights time ...... we’ll  have  all that and much more – until next Friday night – tight lines and fair sailing.”


    Discovery of new habitat for corals in the Porcupine Bank Canyon

    An international team of scientists led by Prof. Andy Wheeler of University College Cork have recently (June 2015) discovered a new cold-water coral habitat in Irish waters possibly doubling the amount of cold-water corals previously thought to exist in Irish waters, while on the Marine Institute’s RV Celtic Explorer during the QuERCi survey.
    While conducting research on Irish cold-water coral reefs, Prof. Andy Wheeler investigated a submerged vertical cliff 800m below the sea surface and found it covered in cold-water coral. “The seabed just falls away into a deep chasm. We couldn’t wait to take a look down there, using the Holland I remotely-operated vehicle, which is equipped with cameras and robotic sampling arms.” said Prof. Andy Wheeler,
    Prof. Wheeler and his team have been investigating Irish cold-water coral reefs for over 15 years. In the deep, cold, dark Atlantic these corals form reef habitats supporting a diverse and abundant ecosystem. It was while mapping and inspecting some previously unconfirmed reefs on the edge of the Porcupine Bank Canyon, 300km offshore from Dingle, that the scientists decided to venture further into the canyon itself.
    The ROV Holland I was manoeuvred from 2100m water depth in the middle of the canyon, up the canyon wall to the coral reefs clustered around the canyon top at 700m water depth. The bottom of the canyon was choked with organic-rich particles flushing down the canyon on the way to the abyssal plain. “It was like flying the ROV through a snow blizzard” said Dr. Chris McGonigle (Ulster University), “but we just pushed up the canyon and it got steeper and steeper and steeper until we faced this vertical cliff face several hundred metres high.”
    The cliff face, never seen by humans before, was covered in corals and other associated organisms. “These near vertical habitats hardly feature on maps yet can be hundreds of metres high and extend for tens of km. This is a massive habitat, barely explored, yet full of ocean life”, said Dr. Agostina Vertino (University of Milan-Bicocca) “We found many species of coral, sponges, crabs and fish”.
    “The Porcupine Bank has 500km of cliff habitat at this water depth. Corals were found between 900 and 700m water depth”, explained Prof. Wheeler, “It is not unfeasible that there is over 100km2 of coral habitat that was previously unaccounted for.”
    The coral discovery site has already been designated a Special Area of Conservation due to coral reefs in the vicinity. Despite its protection, the international team lead by Prof. Wheeler found snagged fishing gear and litter. “It is a great shame, we are the first people to see this place yet despite of its remoteness there is still evidence of human impacts”, said Prof. Andy Wheeler.
    The RV Celtic Explorer is Ireland’s state-of-the-art research vessel and has been recently equipped with new seabed mapping sonars giving unprecedented views of the seabed. The ship is also the dive platform for the Holland I ROV. “The quality of the data that this ship and ROV can now collect is phenomenal. We were seeing details on the seabed that a few years ago we could only have dreamed of”, said Dr. Chris McGonigle (University of Ulster), “This increase in data quality will allow us to develop a much greater understanding of the processes controlling the distribution of life in these unique environments.”
    Congratulating the Prof. Wheeler and the team, on their discoveries, Mick Gillooly, Director of the Marine Institute said “we are delighted to see the recent upgrade of the Celtic Explorer’s and the ROV Holland’s multibeam sonar suite producing such amazing results for this expedition. The high resolution images produced are fundamental in helping scientists with their research as well as helping us provide a better understanding our ocean.

    For more information and images of the corals found on the Porcupine bank, see the Scientistsatsea.blogspot (12th June – 22nd June 2015):
    Also our student blog:
    This research survey is supported by the Marine Institute and is funded under the Marine Research Sub-Programme by the Irish Government.



    Excitement is building with just one week to go before the biggest spectator event ever staged in Northern Ireland.


    The city will act as the home port before the start of the 2015 Tall Ships Race, with dozens of the world’s finest sailing vessels berthed in Belfast over the weekend of July 2 – 5. 


    This is the third time that Belfast has welcomed the Tall Ships Race, having previously staged the event in 1991 and 2009.  However, with the city acting as the staging post for the first leg of the race, even more ships will be taking part this year, with some 50 vessels – including 18 massive Class A ships – making the port their home for four days before setting off on their annual challenge.


    More than 500,000 people are expected to attend the free event, bringing with them an economic windfall of at least £10 million for the city.  The same number are expected to line the shores of Belfast Lough on the Sunday (July 5) to watch the magnificent Parade of Ships as they leave en masse for the first leg of this year’s race, which starts off Portrush the following morning.


    As well as the ships – many of which will be open to the public (subject to occasional operational restrictions) – there will be plenty to do and see on land, with a packed entertainments programme, headed by teenage pop sensations Bailey McConnell and Emma Horan, as well as a host of local talent.  There’ll also be fun fairs, street theatre, interactive activities, food markets, a fireworks display on the Saturday night and a fly past by the Royal Arrows on the Sunday morning.


    Translink are laying on special services to get people safely to and from the Tall Ships.  There will be Park and Ride facilities at Sprucefield, Cairnshill, Dundonald and a new site at Ballymartin, just off the M2 at the junction for the International Airport.  There also will be bus services from Belfast City Council Park and Ride sites at Holywood Exchange travelling to Queen’s Quay and from Boucher Road Playing Fields to Pollock Dock. A free shuttle bus will help ferry visitors from Wellington Place in the city centre to Pollock Dock, and another between there and Queen’s Quay.


    For details of these, and all Translink’s special services and offers, visit or call the Translink contact centre on 9066 6630.


    For further information on the events taking place over the weekend, the ships and where they will be berthed, the ancillary entertainments’ programme, the best vantage points for the Parade of Sail, and much more, visit  You can also keep up to date with news at and


    For tourist information, contact Visit Belfast on +44(0)28 9024 6609 or click



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    Presenter/Producer: Marcus Connaughton

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