New underwater observatory launched in Galway Bay

The Irish Lights vessel, ILV Granuaile, preparing to deploy the cable end equipment to complete the Ocean Observatory at Galway Bay. Photo: Aengus McMahon.
The Irish Lights vessel, ILV Granuaile, preparing to deploy the cable end equipment to complete the Ocean Observatory at Galway Bay. Photo: Aengus McMahon.

A significant piece of ocean research infrastructure was brought to fruition with the completion of the Galway Bay underwater ocean observatory over the weekend.
Through the combined effort of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), the Marine Institute and Commissioners of Irish Lights, the final piece of equipment has been deployed to give researchers and ocean energy developers unique insight into the Galway bay marine environment.
The observatory is now entering into a commissioning period and is expected to be operational in the coming months.
The ocean observatory will enable the use of cameras, probes and sensors to permit continuous and remote live underwater monitoring.
Data from the equipment will be fed via an underwater cable, which was deployed last April, to the Marine Institute where analysis will take place. Data from the observatory will also be available online through the Digital Ocean Platform under development by the Marine Institute.
The equipment has been installed in the Galway Bay test site, which is an area 1.5km off Spiddal pier and is used primarily to test small scale ocean energy devices. This observatory equipment will allow ocean energy developers to monitor how their devices are performing in the ocean as well as give ocean researchers unique real-time access to monitor ongoing changes in the marine environment.
Also deployed at the test site this weekend was a novel mooring tether developed by an Irish company ‘Technology From Ideas’.
This technology reduces the impacts of rough seas on moored devices, thus making them cheaper to design and construct. It also reduces need for excessive ropes and chains for moorings, which reduces impact on the seabed and the environment. The development and testing of the mooring tether is being grant supported by SEAI.