To Rockall and Back

This summer the COMPASS project joined a United Nations Decade of the Ocean cruise visiting the very edge of the North Atlantic Shelf region, including Fangorn and Rockall Bank. This area, over 400 km from the nearest land, represents the western extent of the COMPASS network of buoys.

The work was undertaken using the Marine Institute’s vessel the Celtic Explorer, in July with scientific operations led by National University Ireland, Galway (NUIG).  The collaborative cruise plan for this voyage was developed by COMPASS researchers, Dr Adam Mellor (AFBI) and Dr Denise Risch (SAMS) alongside Prof Louise Allcock  from National University of Ireland, Galway. COMPASS research formed a critical part of this multi-disciplinary cruise.

Rhiannon Lamb, a student from Newcastle university, who is using COMPASS data for her MPhil on western Scotland minke whale vocalisations, was also on board the cruise to assist the COMPASS team to collect and deploy moorings. Rhiannon also deployed the towed hydrophone array which will provide data to identify presence of marine mammals that vocalise in the frequency range 0-24kHz, while simultaneously collecting ocean ambient noise data. Several marine mammal visual surveys were also conducted. The results from the research trip will provide valuable offshore data to assist with future management of the marine environment and its protected species.

COMPASS hydrophone being deployed from the Celtic Explorer in July 2021 along the North Atlantic Shelf. Image credit: Paul Stapleton


During the UN Ocean Decade of the Ocean research trip Rhiannon Lamb, on board for COMPASS, undertook visual observation for Marine Mammals. The vessel went out to the North Atlantic Shelf. Image credit: Paul Stapleton.