SmartBay supports marine biodiversity monitoring

subsea observatory in Galway Bay

Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) is using the SmartBay observatory to integrate environmental DNA (eDNA) approaches to monitor marine biodiversity in Galway bay.


eDNA tool relies on the acquisition of nucleic acids from environment to detect species that have shed “biological traces”.

The project is using a programmable filtration sampler to filter large volumes of water.

High throughput sequencing processes these volumes, while metabarcoding analysis obtains lists of species.

Initial validation has combined eDNA data from the observatory camera to compare lists of fish species.

The goal is to extend the analysis to a wider taxonomic spectrum and also monitor the event of invasive species.

Dr Luca Mirimin from GMIT believes that corroborating eDNA data with other indirect methods, such as SmartBay video or acoustic data, offers an opportunity to fully assess the feasibility and applicability of novel technologies and approaches.

This project is one of seven projects in the 2018/2019 National Infrastructure Access Programme funding call.

The awardees will receive support of approximately €25,000 per project to trial and validate their technology.

They will gain access to data feeds to carry out research at the SmartBay marine and renewable energy test site.

The call was open to both academia and industry, and other relevant organisations, on the island of Ireland, to access the SmartBay test site and subsea observatory.

The National Infrastructure Access Programme secures funding from the Marine Institute under the Marine Research Programme.