Marine Technology Reporter Blogs - research

Mission 31 – Living and Working Underwater

July 10, 2014

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Fabien Cousteau’s Mission 31 broke new ground in ocean exploration and also coincided with the 50th anniversary of the monumental legacy left by his grandfather Jacques-Yves Cousteau, who is credited with creating the first ocean floor habitats for humans and leading a team of ocean explorers on the first attempt to live and work underwater aboard Conshelf Two. The ambitious 30-day living experiment in the Red Sea succeeded as the first effort in saturation diving, proving that it could be done without suffering any ill effects. Mission 31 broadened the original Cousteau experiment by 1 full day, 30 more feet of saturation and broadcasted each moment on multiple channels exposing the world to the adventure, risk and mystique of what lies beneath.

São Pedro and São Paulo Archipelago Research Station

May 26, 2014

The São Pedro and São Paulo archipelago (ASPSP) is composed by 15 small islands or rock outcrops, located about 1,000 km off the coast of Rio Grande do Norte and approximately 610 km from the Fernando de Noronha archipelago in Northeast Brazil, and has a total emerged area of is approximately 17,000 square meters. The low altitude and small size made the location a critical point for navigation, because the islands are very difficult to detect with the naked eye at sea level, especially under adverse light and weather conditions which have led to many shipwrecks in the past. The first and most famous of these wrecks was the one that led to the discovery of the archipelago.

Autosub6000 – UK’s Deepwater AUV

May 5, 2014

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With a range up to 1000 km, a maximum operating depth of 6000 m, and a payload capacity of 0.5 m3, Autosub6000 is one of the world’s most capable ultra-deep water AUVs. The Autosub6000 was developed by the Underwater Systems Laboratory at the National Oceanography Center in Southampton, with funding from the UK Natural Environment Research Council. Autosub6000 is the latest 6000 m rated version of the Autosub AUV series, which has been used extensively for ocean science during the last 10 years, including work under ice operations in the Arctic and Antarctic. The design of the nose and tail sections, including the navigation and control systems, are substantially inherited from the tried and tested Autosub3.

Aquarius Underwater Laboratory

April 27, 2014

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During decades this reef base for underwater observation and research has been fundamental in understanding reef dynamics and is unique in its capability to continuously house teams of scientists to research a variety of subjects related to Marine Biology, Oceanography and other fields of study. NOAA’s Aquarius Reef Base is an underwater habitat located in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, adjacent to Conch Reef. It is one of the few underwater research facilities in the world dedicated exclusively to scientific research. Aquarius is owned by the NOAA and operated by the University of North Carolina–Wilmington until 2013 when Florida International University (FIU) took over operations.

Hadal Ecosystem Expedition Takes Off

April 24, 2014

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An international team of researchers is using the unique deepwater Hybrid ROV Nereus, and other advanced technology to explore life in the depths of the Kermadec Trench, which runs northeast from the North Island of New Zealand. The 40-day expedition, which began on April 12th, kicks off an ambitious three-year collaborative effort funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The goal of the project, known as Hadal Ecosystem Studies (HADES), is to conduct the first-ever systematic study of life in ocean trenches, comparing it to the neighboring abyssal plain at depths between 3,000 and 6,000 meters. Due to the extreme pressures of these deep-sea environments and the technical challenges involved in reaching them…

GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel

April 14, 2014

The GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel is one of the world’s leading institutes in the field of marine sciences. The institute investigates the chemical, physical, biological and geological processes of the seafloor, oceans and ocean margins and their interactions with the atmosphere. With this broad spectrum GEOMAR is unique in Germany. Additionally, the institute has successfully bridged the gap between basic and applied science in a number of research areas. The institute specializes in the interdisciplinary investigation of marine sciences, from sea floor geology to marine meteorology, with research efforts being conducted worldwide in all oceans and seas.

UN Bans Japan from Antarctic Whaling

March 31, 2014

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The UN's International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ruled that the Japanese government must halt its whaling program in the Antarctic. It finally agreed with Australia, which had presented the case in May 2010. Australia’s case claimed that the Japanese whaling program was not for scientific research as claimed by Tokyo, arguing that the program was commercial whaling in disguise. A score of other countries have condemned Japan for the practice, yet it took 4 years for UN’s ICJ to pass its verdict. The court's decision is considered legally binding. Reading out the verdict, Presiding Judge Peter Tomka said the court had decided, by 12 votes to four, that Japan should withdraw all permits and licenses for whaling in the Antarctic and refrain from issuing any new ones.

Corals track strongest Indian Ocean Current

March 26, 2014

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Researchers used corals as temperature archives. Natural variations in the warming and cooling cycles of the Agulhas current core region have been revealed from Madagascar corals. A new study, led by The University of Western Australia and with contribution by Professor Christian Dullo from GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, has been published in Nature Scientific Reports. The Agulhas Current, which flows down the east coast of Africa, is the strongest western boundary current in the Southern Hemisphere. Changes in its strength and the heat budget it transports are of interest, both on regional and global scales. The current is also the gateway for warm and salty Indian Ocean water that slowly goes up the Atlantic on its way to the far northern Gulf Stream.

Ocearch – Global Great White Shark Tagging

March 10, 2014

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Hydraulic platform used to tag the sharks safely. OCEARCH is a global non-profit organization specializing on research of Great White Sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) and other large predators, enabling leading researchers and institutions to generate previously unattainable data on the movement, biology and health of sharks to protect their future while enhancing public safety and education. OCEARCH is also a leader in open source research, sharing data in near real-time for free through the Global Shark Tracker, enabling researchers, students and the public to learn more about the Great White Sharks's habits and dynamics. Over 50 researchers from more than 20 institutions have collaborated with OCEARCH to date with over three dozen research papers in process or completed.

Islas Revillagigedo

January 8, 2014

Also known as the Socorro Islands, they are located 386km (250 miles) southwest of the tip of Baja California (Cabo San Lucas) and over 720km (446 miles) west of Manzanillo, the Revillagigedos are one of three Mexican island groups in the Pacific Ocean. All four islands that make up the Revillagigedos Archipelago are remote, volcanic in origin and offer some of the most unpredictable, wild drift diving in the world. Isla Socorro is the largest of the Revillagigedos islands. Dive operator live aboard Solmar V, one of two live-aboards that go there has been using u/w sensors attached to buoy cables to record the movement of hundreds of…

Wave Power – The Pelamis Concept

August 7, 2013

Wave energy is produced when electricity generators are placed on the surface of the ocean. The energy provided is most often used in desalination plants, power plants and water pumps. Energy output is determined by wave height, wave speed, wavelength, and water density. Waves are generated by the wind as it blows across the sea surface, so that energy is transferred from the wind to the waves. Wave energy is sometimes confused with tidal energy, which is quite different. Waves travel vast distances across oceans at great speed. The longer and stronger the wind blows over the sea surface, the higher, longer, faster and more powerful are the waves.

Subsea Connection Systems - FMC's UCON System

August 2, 2013

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Subsea oil fields are dependent on a large amount of connections between various kinds of subsea equipment in order to function. They allow umbilicals, flowlines, risers and rigid jumpers to connect to manifolds, x-mas trees, BOPs, pipelines and riser bases. These connections need to be absolutely safe and reliable as connection problems can cause a series of problems in operating subsea equipment which may affect exploration and production only a little or cause these to partially or completely stop. On top of that subsea connection failures may also cause oil spills or gas leakage in the environment in small or large amounts, driving operators and subsea service and equipment providers to invest heavily in research regarding ideal connection manufacture…

R/V Meteor – German Research Ship off Brazil

July 3, 2013

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The R/V Meteor research ship arrived in Fortaleza, Ceara, on Brazil’s Equatorial Margin last Friday, June 28th. The Meteor which has a complement of 30 scientists of different nationalities, including one Brazilian, left port on Monday as it begins another Atlantic crossing to Namibia in West Africa, where it is due to arrive on July 29th. Along the voyage the ship will be collecting samples and data from deep waters, to be analyzed by a multidisciplinary team of researchers, composed of chemists, biologists and physicists. The only Brazilian aboard is Marcio Pereira, a 63 year old professor of Oceanographic Physics from the Geophysics department of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN), whose studies will be concentrated in variations of marine currents.

Structural Collapse of Corroded Deepwater Pipelines Subjected to External Pressure

June 20, 2013

Deepwater O&G pipelines, used to transport oil and gas from offshore production units to onshore refineries, are subjected to the corrosive effects of salt water and to massive internal and external pressures. The risk of structural collapse in a pipeline is largely dependent on the levels of internal and external corrosion affecting pipe sections and on the amount of internal and external pressure on the pipe. Corrosion is a time dependent phenomenon that usually requires several years to produce a corrosion defect sufficiently large to cause a significant reduction in the collapse pressure of a pipeline. Consequently during installation it is considered that the pipeline is free of any metal loss due to corrosion.

Environmental Risks of Drilling the Brazilian Equatorial Margin

June 18, 2013

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With the 11th round of tendering for O&G block in Brazil set to start next week, it is important to look at some of the serious risks involved in drilling for O&G in Brazil’s Equatorial Margin. Most of the offshore blocks being tendered in this 11th round of bidding are located along Brazil’s northeast and north coasts. This, according to the Brazilian government, is being done in order to de-centralize O&G production in Brazil, where most of the oil and gas E&P is done along the southeast coast, basically centered off the states of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Espirito Santo. This is all well and good, when considering the need to redistribute O&G wealth to other parts of the country…

Iatá-Piuna Expedition to the Rio Grande Rise

June 15, 2013

Iatá-Piuna means “Navigating in Deep and Dark Waters” in the Tupi-Guarani native indian language. That is the name of the expedition that recently explored the Rio Grande Rise and adjacent areas almost 1,500km from the coast of Rio de Janeiro in the Mid-Atlantic Ocean. The Iatá-Piuna expedition is a partnership between Brazil and Japan to explore what researchers believe is a continental mass that sank around 100 million years ago, during the break-up of Gondwana. Since 1985 there is a Technical and Scientific agreement between the Brazilian and Japanese governments and this latest expedition happened through an agreement between the Oceanographic Institute of the University of São Paulo (IOUSP)…

Small Coastal Dolphins Awarded Protected Area During Rio + 20

June 15, 2013

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The “Restinga de Jurubatiba” National Park has a coastal area 44 km long and is composed of shrub like trees, rich fauna and flora, 18 pristine coastal lagoons that occasionally open up to the sea. However up to now, its 15 hectares did not encompass the sea fronting it. That is precisely where the most endangered group of dolphins in Brazil are found in greater abundance. The Pontoporia blainvillei, commonly known as “Toninha” in these parts, is set to be awarded its first dedicated preservation area in the State of Rio de Janeiro. The idea is to include an area with a depth of up to 30 meters (following the depth curve), along the 44 km coastal area that comprises the National Park. This will add up to a 15 km increase in the protected area.

Future of AUVs in Brazil

June 15, 2013

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With companies such as Kongsberg and ECA bringing state of the art AUV models into the Brazilian market, and with the great demand for AUV services from the O&G industry, government agencies and universities, the future of AUVs in Brazil looks really promising. Presently, most AUVs are being employed by the O&G industry for pipeline routing and monitoring, seabed mapping and other specialized services. However there is a growing demand from academia to employ AUVs is oceanographic research and environmental research, this is an important development because it will allow universities to have unprecedented leverage to undertake complex research programs from shallow water to the deepest ocean basins off Brazil and off all the eastern South American coastline…

Small Dolphins in Risk of Extinction in Rio

June 16, 2013

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The “Toninha” as small dolphins of the Pontoporia Species are called in Brazil are part of the Group denominated Odontocetos Cetacean. It is one of the smallest existing species of dolphins. Its coloration varies from pale gray to light yellow with its lower part being lighter. Their face is visibly elongated and it has more than 200 teeth. Their eyes are small and so is their dorsal fin, when compared to other species of dolphins. Its dorsal fin is also rounded at the extremities. The full name of the species is Pontoporia blainvillei. Today there are only 2,000 toninhas left off the coast of the states of Rio de Janeiro and Espirito Santo. This number represents less than half of the minimum population number considered safe. The safe population number is around 5,500 individuals.

New Research Ship to Identify how Brazilian Forests and Seas Affect World Climate

June 16, 2013

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The Alpha Crusis is a 64 meter (213feet)  long and 11 meter (36 feet) wide research ship, capable of carrying up to 20 passengers, weighing 972 tons and with a 40 day sailing autonomy. The research ship was bought by Fapesp (Foundation for the Support of Research of the State of São Paulo) from the University of Hawaii for use by the Oceanographic Institute of the University of São Paulo. The ships total cost including renovations ran at $11 million. When it belonged to the U of H, the ship was called the Moana Wave and was being run by NOAA until it was acquired by Brazilian Fapesp, after which it went through 10 months of renovations and refurbishing in a Seattle shipyard.