NUI Galway Gives Students a Chance to Name Sea Creature

Monday, 16 May 2011

This summer, as part of the Vents & Reefs (VENTuRE) expedition, Marine Scientists from NUI Galway and University College Cork (UCC), are amongst a team that are heading out to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean to check out a newly discovered hydrothermal vent ecosystem. Here, on the mid-Atlantic ridge at a depth of almost 3000 metres, the Marine Institute’s Holland I ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) will be sending images to scientists at the surface of a whole new world. This new ecosystem is such an exciting discovery that National Geographic Television will be there to film the whole experience.

Patrick Collins, a researcher with the Benthic Ecology Unit at NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute, is the lead Marine Biologist with the Vents & Reefs campaign, and has organised a very exciting competition for second level students in Ireland. Over the course of the three week cruise, he will be collecting and identifying many previously undiscovered animals. As part of this competition one of these could end up with a students name on it.

Patrick Collins says “This is an extremely important discovery, and one that we think people will be very excited about. We are asking for secondary school students across Ireland to use their imaginations and understanding of the sea to design their own deep sea hydrothermal vent creature. We’d like to see 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. One lucky winner will actually have one of the new species that we discover at the vents named after them. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!”

This competition is open to all secondary school students across Ireland and the UK. Entries must contain at least one clearly labelled, hand-drawn or computer illustration accompanied by a separate A4 page (max 400 words) containing a comprehensive description of the creature’s name, its habitat, diet, etc. Completed entries should be posted to: Sarah Knight, Ryan Institute, Orbsen Building, NUI Galway. Competition deadline is June 15, 2011, and the winner will be announced after the Celtic Explorer returns to Ireland in August. Full competition details are available at http://www.ryaninstitute.ie/education-outreach/outreach/vents-reefs-competition/.

The team are very grateful to the Marine Institute who are funding the cruise, and to National Geographic Television, who will be documenting the cruise, for their involvement and additional funding support.

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