It’s a competition where the winner goes down in natural history: at a newly discovered hydrothermal vent ecosystem in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, you could have a deep-sea creature named after you!
A group of marine scientists have come up with this unique prize in a competition for secondary school students across Ireland.
This summer the team will be checking out the ecosystem as part of the Vents & Reefs (VENTuRE) expedition. The project involves scientists from University College Cork, NUI Galway, the Geological Survey of Ireland, the University of Southampton and the National Oceanography Centre in the UK.
At a depth of almost 3,000 metres, the Marine Institute Holland I ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) will be beaming images up to scientists at the surface on board the RV Celtic Explorer.
This new ecosystem is such an exciting discovery that National Geographic will also be filming the project.
“This is an extremely important discovery, and one that we think people will be very excited about,” says Patrick Collins, a researcher with the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway.
Over the course of the 25-day cruise, he and the other scientists will be collecting and identifying many previously undiscovered animals.
“We are asking secondary school students across Ireland to use their imaginations and understanding of the sea to design their own deep sea creature,” Patrick says. “We’d like to see carefully thought out illustrations, along with a description of the creature’s habitat, diet, life and evolutionary history, and whatever else you think is important.
“One lucky winner will actually have one of the new species that we discover at the vents named after them. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Entries must contain at least one clearly labelled, hand-drawn or computer illustration, along with a separate A4 page containing a description (maximum 400 words) of the creature’s name, its habitat and diet.
Completed entries should be posted to:
The Ryan Institute,
National University of Ireland, Galway
The deadline for entries is 3 June, 2011. Read the full competition rules on the Ryan Institute’s website