Friday, May 6, 2011

Fancy getting to name a new marine species?

Image: (c)Patrick Collins
A team of Irish and UK scientists will shortly embark on a 25-day trip to the depths of the Atlantic ocean as part of a National Geographic-funded study to examine a previously uncharted hydrothermal vent ecosystem.

The work will be filmed by National Geographic and the campaign will be led by Chief Scientist Dr. Andy Wheeler of the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, UCC.

The Marine Institute's research vessel, Celtic Explorer will travel to the mid-Atlantic ridge to examine the unique ecosystem in July. "It is literally, an alien world", according to Andy Wheeler.

UCC scientists Prof. John Gamble, Dr. Jens Carlsson, Prof. John Benzie Prof. Tom Cross, Dr. Boris Dorschel will all contribute to the study, alongside a number of scientists from NUI Galway, National Oceanography Centre (UK) in Southampton, University of Southampton and the Geological Survey of Ireland.

For more background on the Venture project, see this article from the Irish Times.

RV Celtic Explorer
Patrick Collins, a researcher at NUI Galway, also taking part in the project, has organised an exciting competition for secondary school students in Ireland. The prize? To get to put your name on one of the many newly discovered species that the team are likely to find as part of the study.

The competition is open to all secondary school students across Ireland and the UK. To enter, students must use their imaginations and understanding of biology and habitats to design their own deep sea hydrothermal vent creature.

The organisers are looking for carefully thought out illustrations along with a description of the creature’s habitat, diet, life and evolutionary history, and whatever else you think is important. The competition will close on June 15 2011, and the winner will be announced after the Celtic Explorer returns to Ireland in August.

For more details on how to enter see the BEES Research Blog.


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