Tuesday 20 August 2019

Secrets of the Wexford sea

Liam O'Donohoe and Celine McCarthy with crew member Rose Jebb onboard the RV Keary.
Liam O'Donohoe and Celine McCarthy with crew member Rose Jebb onboard the RV Keary.

By Maria Pepper

What environmental and geographical secrets lurk on the seabed in the depths of the ocean off the Wexford coast?

Interested members of the public are about to find out as the scientific research vessel, RV Keary docks in Kilmore Quay on Sunday next and invites people aboard to find out more about how climate change is affecting the County Wexford coast and its heritage.

The Geological Survey of Ireland inshore catamaran arrived last weekend and will be docked in Kilmore Quay again on Sunday next, August 27, offering visitors a chance to meet the marine archaeologists, surveyors and geologists who analyse the data collected on the boat, to see the instruments they use and to get an insight into the results of their survey work in Wexford and other parts of the Irish coast.

The RV Keary named after one of Ireland's pioneering marine biologists Raymmond Keary, is involved in the Cherish (Climate, Heritage and Environments of Reefs, Islands and Headlands) project and will be open to the public from 10 am to 4 pm next Sunday.

Cherish -Climate Change and Coastal Heritage' is a new €5.2 million initiative being funded over five years by the European Union's Ireland-Wales Programme 2014-2020 and supporting specialist organisations in the two countries to employ cutting-edge technologies such as seabed mapping, drone aerial survey and laser scanning to analyse coastline and island archaeology and cultural heritage sites most affected by climate change, coastal erosion, storminess and rising sea levels.

Hydrography, geology, archaeology, remote sensing and environmental science techniques will be used to further the research.

This summer, Geological Survey of Ireland INFOMAR vessels have been conducting inshore surveys along the east coast of Ireland including Wexford. Preliminary data has revealed shipwrecks, submerged landscape features such as sandwaves and geological folding. The GSI has been conducting trials of coastal surveys from drones and this data will assist the archaeological work being out by the Discovery Programme for Cherish, according to a spokeswoman.

The islands, reefs and headlands on the coasts of Ireland and Wales have a rich heritage which remains largely unexplored and inadequately mapped. These environments are exposed to extreme weather and storms which are predicted to increase due to climate change.

The Cherish project is being overseen by the Discovery Programme at the Centre of Archaeology and Innovation Ireland and the Geological survey of Ireland in collaboration with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales and the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences in Aberystwyth University in association with communities in Wexford, Dublin, Meath, Waterford and Kerry.

The Integrated Mapping For the Sustainable Development of Ireland's Marine Resource (INFOMAR) programme is a joint venture between the Geological Survey of Ireland and the Marine Institute, covering 125,000 square kilometres of Ireland's most productive and commercially valuable inshore waters. The goal of INFOMAR is to map all of Ireland's underwater territory and produce integrated mapping products covering the physical, chemical and biological features of the seabed.

The Discovery Programme's mission is to explore Ireland's past and its cultural heritage by conducting advanced research in Irish archaeology and disseminate its findings to the global community. The programme receives its core funding from the Heritage Council and also receives funding through EU-funded projects.

Wexford People

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