SmartBay: The Importance of Ocean Observations & Access to Observatories

SmartBay Where are they now

SmartBay: The Importance of Ocean Observations & Access to Observatories

Marine coastal areas are recognised as being the most productive and dynamic of the world’s ocean and provide enormous potential for environmental and societal benefit. Enhanced ocean observations and continuous environmental monitoring will ensure that the natural capital of these zones is monitored and maintained.  The need for enhanced cooperation between research driven environmental monitoring and the development of novel sensors and services is paramount to this.

The SmartBay Observatory is a unique fixed platform underwater cabled observatory and has been operational since 2015 in Galway Bay. The observatory is equipped with a fibre optic data and power cable and a seabed sensor hosting platform. The observatory includes a set of permanently deployed instruments (CTD, DO2, Fluorometer, ADCP, HDTV, hydrophone, pC02).  The data currently includes a live video stream, sea temperature and salinity, speed and direction of the water currents, underwater noise and measurements of the chlorophyll and turbidity levels in the water which give an indication of the volume of phytoplankton sediment in the water.  The real-time underwater video footage and all the data from the sensors is continuously refreshed and displayed on the observatory web portal which can be accessed:

The SmartBay Observatory also provides power and two-way high speed communications to support R&D projects or sensor developers trialling new technologies.  SmartBay provided access to more than twenty researchers over the course of ten H2020 JERICO-NEXT and JERICO-S3 projects. These projects emphasized the need for new technological developments to continuously monitor physics, biogeochemistry and biology to fully understand the complexity of the coastal ocean. SmartBay Observatory research projects focus on the importance of ocean observations to address issues of societal relevance; the ability of R&D to answer scientific and non-scientific questions, its use in improving our knowledge of the ocean, and the ability to provide information to a wide range of customer and users.

This approach is further emphasised as the SmartBay Observatory is Ireland’s contribution to the European Multidisciplinary Seafloor and Water-column Observatory - European Research Infrastructure Consortium (EMSO-ERIC). EMSO-ERIC is a strategic distributed infrastructure of seafloor and water column observatories whose principal scientific objective is the long-term observation of fundamental environmental processes related to the interaction between the geosphere, biosphere and hydrosphere.  EMSO-ERIC provides unprecedented open access for users to a large scale, technologically advanced system for multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research on deep ocean processes including marine ecosystems, climate change and marine geohazards.

Past Projects: Where Are They Now? 

A retrospective look at projects and research that was hosted by the SmartBay Observatory, and a look at where they are now, provides evidence of the importance to researchers of accessing marine observatories and associated research Infrastructures, sensors, data and technical support services.   Over the coming months we will highlight the experiences of key users accessing the SmartBay Observatory and the resulting outcomes.

Looking forward, the state of the art SmartBay Observatory will continue to provide access and logistical, technical and scientific support services to marine scientists and researchers from around the world.

For further information or to contact a member of our team email: