An aerial shot of the INFOMAR team and the TY students

The Marine Institute welcomed 22 transition year students to its fifth annual TY Training week (25th February – 1st March 2019) at the Marine Institute’s headquarters in Oranmore, Galway.  Students from counties Galway, Mayo, Clare, Roscommon, Dublin and, Waterford, engaged in a range of activities to experience what it is like to work in the marine sector. On Thursday the students met the INFOMAR team to get an overview of the national seabed mapping programme and the opportunities that exist for students of various marine disciplines including hydrography, geology, geophysics and marine biology.

The need for education and training programmes to maintain and develop skilled professionals in the marine sector is highlighted in Ireland’s national marine plan, Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth. Encouraging a new generation to pursue marine and maritime careers, is an initiative of the Marine Institute’s Strategic Plan 2018-2022: Building Ocean Knowledge, Delivering Ocean Services.

In line with this plan, INFOMAR, jointly managed by the Marine Institute and the Geological Survey Ireland, has developed and piloted an interactive and informative half-day training module for second level students. It introduces the how, where, and why of seabed mapping, and includes software demonstrations, shipwreck and drone presentations, a website tour, and concludes with a hands-on practical session which teaches the students how to access and use online INFOMAR data. This engaging and informative module further evolves INFOMAR’s Outreach and Education Programme, which recently saw seabed mapping data and products being introduced to the Junior Cert Geography course via ScoilNet, an online data portal for teachers. Please follow the link for more information on ScoilNet and INFOMAR.

Tommy Furey, Marine Institute’s INFOMAR Joint Programme Manager highlighted that ‘The TY Week and especially the half day allocated to seabed mapping is an opportunity for the INFOMAR team to share their passion for the sea, to educate the next generation of marine scientists on the importance of our marine resource, and to motivate them to think of ocean careers as a global opportunity’.

Students got a helicopter view of daily life at sea on a survey boat, how acoustic sensors are operated offshore, and how data are processed and visualised. They got an insight into charting, the extent of marine heritage that rests on the seabed, and marine life that flourishes on and above it. They got a sense of the conservation challenges that exist, and equally the emerging marine technologies and state of the art digital mapping products that will support sustainable management of Irelands’ marine resources, and accelerate growth of multiple marine sectors.

INFOMAR is the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment funded national seabed mapping programme, jointly managed and delivered by Geological Survey Ireland and Marine Institute.