Coastal science expedition comes to Marine Institute in Galway

31 Aug 2023

Image: © 4kclips/

A major expedition is landing in Galway next week as part of a research project to study Europe’s diverse and expansive coastline.

The Marine Institute, a Galway-based state agency, will play host to a major European coastal science expedition from 2 to 14 September.

The aim of the research expedition is to explore the interactions between land and sea ecosystems to understand the effects of the climate crisis, how organisms respond to natural and human-caused environmental changes, and to establish a baseline of information about European coastal ecology to serve as a reference for future assessments.

The Traversing European Coastlines (Trec) expedition is carrying out research in 46 regions in Europe, from the Mediterranean to Scandinavia, bringing together 150 research teams from 70 institutions in 29 countries.

The ocean exploration is carried out on the Tara Schooner by the Tara Ocean Foundation, a French organisation with a mission to better understand the ocean and raise public awareness about marine issues.

The Tara Schooner research vessel with wide open while sails in open water.

Tara Schooner vessel. Image: Tara Ocean Foundation

In tandem with the ocean research, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) will provide mobile life sciences labs on land to test soil, sediment, water, selected species and other samples. The proximity of the labs to the sampling site reduces the chance of sample degradation and provides scientists opportunities to perform molecular research during the expedition.

By working closely with the Trec team, the Marine Institute will gain valuable insights for managing and preserving Ireland’s coastal regions and marine life.

Joe Silke, the director of marine environment and food safety services at the Marine Institute, said the institute was proud to work with Trec in Galway.

“The research being conducted addresses crucial issues such as pollution, biodiversity loss and invasive species, expanding on and directly relevant to the Marine Institute’s work in Ireland’s coastal habitats,” he said.

Family-friendly activities

During their stay, the Trec team will host several free public events, including tours of the Tara Schooner vessel, public talks and workshops, to raise awareness about marine science and molecular biology.

Local schools are invited to register for group visits to the Tara Schooner, which will take place between 11 and 14 September. Check out the EMBL website for more information and to register.

The TREC EMBL van parked at a dock with yachts behind it and a blue sky and small white clouds in the background. The side door of the van is open with shelves visible inside.

Trec EMBL mobile lab. Image: Trec

Mapping coasts and pathogens

The Marine Institute and the Geological Survey of Ireland recently launched the Blue Scale Map Series to showcase maps of Ireland’s coast as part of a 20-year Integrated Mapping for the Sustainable Development of Ireland’s Marine Resource (INFOMAR) project to map the coastal seabed in comprehensive detail.

Last week, three maps were released of the Kerry coastline showcasing Tralee Bay, the Iveragh peninsula and the Dingle peninsula. recently spoke to Dr Colman O’Cathail from the European Bioinformatics Institute, which is part of EMBL, to learn more about the organisation and his role as a bioinformatician.

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Rebecca Graham is production editor at Silicon Republic