An observatory is a location used for observing events, usually terrestrial or celestial…. but also oceanic! Ireland’s first underwater observatory, the SmartBay subsea observatory, will be officially activated on Thursday, 30th June as part of the Digital Ocean event. The SmartBay subsea observatory is located off Spiddal in Galway Bay and is a very significant addition to our national marine infrastructure, positioning Ireland once again at the forefront of marine research.
Last year, the RV Celtic Explorer was used to lay a 4km cable and position a frame to which sensors and monitoring equipment were attached as part of the development of the ocean observatory. Now the cable will supply power to the site and allow for unlimited data transfer from the site for researchers testing new and innovative marine technology.
The SmartBay subsea observatory will greatly enhance our understanding of the sea, the impact of weather and climate change, and how the sea reacts in various conditions and how our man-made products will react underwater. The subsea observatory will essentially feed data from the sea floor up to the surface – this will be used by businesses and startups that are operating in the marine space – for example, TFI (Technology from Ideas – Galway company – they are testing their mooring devices to understand survivability, durability and reliability of their moorings at those depths. Another company Cathx Ocean make cameras and lighting for submarines (used by David Attenborough, to find the Titanic, oceanic construction and by police services etc), and they will use the observatory for more testing, and JFC are another Irish company that manufacture and supply a new range of plastic navigation buoys, and again the observatory will enable them to test and understand the requirements for the buoy structure).
So this is an important piece of marine collateral for both the irish marine sector and also international companies will be able to use it too. This is the subsea Internet of Things right here off Galway way. Thanks to the extensive monitoring equipment, data from the seabed and depths of our oceans can be brought to the surface and analysed by researchers and those trying to commercialise marine technologies. The information from the subsea observatory will accelerate developments in the marine sector, and contribute to environmental monitoring, shipping sector, education and research as well as maritime security. It is a hugely significant addition to Ireland¹s Digital Ocean IoT infrastructure.