At any one time scientists and technicians from the UK marine community can be at sea on numerous vessels. This page provides information on the current research expeditions being undertaken by our two Royal Research Ships Discovery and James Cook. Here you can discover where our ships are and what they are aiming to achieve.
Updates from the ships’ Plans of Intended Movement (PIM)
|RRS Discovery||RRS James Cook|
DTG: 051222 1100
Pos: 15 58’ S, 005 52’ W
Co/Spd: 247’ x 10 knots
Wx: SE F4. Slight seas and moderate.
Status: 18 x scientists disembarked, samples and equipment offloaded. Departure Jamestown 1000h
Intentions: Passage to Montevideo
DTG: 02122022 1301
a: SST, No3 Berth Caldera
b: Continue mobilisation
This map shows the positions of the NOC operated vessels RRS Discovery and RRS James Cook. While every effort is made to keep this map up to date sometimes position updates are not possible.
RRS James Cook
|Cruise||Principal scientist & institution||Location||Duration in days (begins)||Aim|
St Helena, Ascension Island
October - December 2022
Blue Belt Big Ocean Survey
Over the past three years four research surveys have been undertaken onboard RRS James Clark Ross, FPV Pharos and RRS Discovery which have explored oceanic deep-water and seamount habitats within the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of several of the UK Overseas Territories (UK OTs) currently included within the Blue Belt (BB) Programme. While this has improved our knowledge of these relatively unexplored and unknown habitats, further information is still required to enable the development of evidence-based management and protection strategies and the setting of ecological baselines which can be used to measure the effectiveness of managed and protected areas.
This Cefas Blue Belt lead research survey will acquire a 2nd and in some cases a 3rd data point from oceanic deep-water habitats from around key UK OTs. Acquiring this additional information is crucial to increasing our understanding of these environments and the development of ecological baselines on which any future monitoring and management strategies can be based. These baselines (once developed) would provide an essential means of assessing the effectiveness of management/protection strategies associated with marine protected areas.
Many of the key fisheries species (blue nose, bigeye tuna, yellow fin tuna, and numerous shark and marlin species) that are being considered for future management and protection under the auspices of the current BB Programme are associated with deep-water habitats such as seamounts and ocean ridges. However, there is still a lack of understanding of how these key species utilise these habitats throughout their life cycles. It has been demonstrated that these offshore habitats also support a comparable level of diversity to that observed from inshore habitats, although there is also a lack of understanding of how these oceanic deep-water habitats are connected and therefore influence the inshore habitats of oceanic islands.
In addition to the core objectives of the BB programme, collecting both biological and physical data from these oceanic deep-water systems will provide us with the opportunity to contribute to existing and new initiatives that are aiming to address global issues such as climate change, ocean acidification, carbon sequestration, marine litter and the exploitation of high-seas fish stocks.
Therefore, surveys such as this one is essential if we are to increase our understanding of how these oceanic deep-water systems function and influence inshore habitats. A commitment to undertake and resource such a survey in partnership with the UK OTs and other organisations would also send a strong political message that any newly or currently designated areas will be managed and monitored to demonstrate that they are being effective in protecting and conserving the species and habitats that exist within them.
Aims and objectives:
Ship-time & Marine Equipment Application Form (SME) Reference: 22/1722