Research voyage, 5km under the sea

Tuesday January 07, 2020 Written by Published in Economy
Israel Miles with a tool used during the Ocean Minerals Limited Research Voyage called a Conductivity Temperature Density Prod which records environmental information. KATRINA TANIRAU 20010601 Israel Miles with a tool used during the Ocean Minerals Limited Research Voyage called a Conductivity Temperature Density Prod which records environmental information. KATRINA TANIRAU 20010601

 

Getting thrown around in the Environmental Station below the deck of the MV Grinna was all part of the adventure for Ocean Minerals Limited assistant researcher Israel Miles.

 

The former Nukutere College student had only returned home to Rarotonga late last year after completing a zoology degree at the University of Otago, when he got offered the job.

Miles was part of the technical team led by marine biologist Adrian Flynn that departed on Christmas Day on an eight-day research voyage, on local vessel MV Grinna.

“To work with cutting edge marine biologist Adrian, and here at home in the environmental sphere, was just awesome,” he said.

“We were working in some pretty testing conditions getting thrown all over the place, and soaking the nodules in ethanol created some fumes the team and crew didn’t like too much,” Miles said as he laughed.

Working with a likeminded technical team and boat crew who were on the same page as far as doing everything ethically and correctly, with thought for the environment they were working in, was also important to Miles.

It was an experience of a life time and one Miles hopes to take part in again.

“We have beautiful ocean reserves and the need to preserve them is vital. People often overlook these Pacific nations and don’t appreciate what we have to offer – the Cook Islands could lead the world in this industry.”

The Seabed Minerals related voyage was conducted under a research application approved by the Cook Islands Research Committee.

It relates to some limited nodule, sediment and biological research, using basic Free Fall Grab sampling, in the Ocean Minerals Limited Reserve area, north of Aitutaki.

The team were in safe hands with crew member and vaka sailor Sam Napa Jr leading the way.

Napa said he expected to see little creatures and more activity in the sediment from the bottom of the sea that was pulled up.

There was a shark tooth covered in nodules – a reflection of how long it had been on the seabed.

Samples being sent off to Australia and the US were placed in storage containers and sediments resembled melted chocolate in texture. Scientific research findings will take up to three months.

Seabed Minerals Commissioner Paul Lynch said he was particularly proud of all the Cook Islanders on board the Grinna, who not only sacrificed spending Christmas with their families but New Year’s Eve as well.

“They faced some tough conditions but completed a successful research mission because they worked together as a team. This is just the start one of about a dozen research voyages that need to take place in the next phase.”

Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown shared the same sentiments: “You went through some trials and tribulations,” he said.  “We are dipping our feet in the water for the first time but there has been a lot of work in terms of setting legislative frameworks for good research and exploration to take place.”

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