Oceanography students hold boot camp in Gozo
Students on the MSc course in Applied Oceanography recently completed a one week-long live-in boot camp experience that combined hands-on fieldwork, lab work, lectures, joint analysis of data, group discussions and scientific evaluations on the Mgarr ix-Xini marine protected area (MPA) as well as off Ħondoq ir-Rummien.
This stretch of sea on the south of Gozo is one of five nearshore/coastal MPAs designated in August 2010. It is also a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) of International Importance as prescribed under the Habitats Directive and thus forms part of the Natura 2000 network.
In this practically pristine marine area the students conducted in situ physical observations to measure sea currents, temperature, salinity and other basic parameters. They were introduced to the principles concerning the planning and execution of oceanographic field studies, and went on to acquire hands-on experience in scientific data acquisition in the marine environment, in the direct use of marine equipment, instrument calibration and deployment, data extraction and processing.
The measurements acquired were subsequently used to assess how the marine biota and habitats are influenced by the site-specific dynamics. The study will help to better understand the area and to characterise its benthic and pelagic baseline ahead of any environmental impacts that planned developments may have on the marine area.
The activity was planned and supervised by academic staff of the Physical Oceanography Research Group of the Department of Geosciences. It was coordinated by Prof. Aldo Drago with the assistance of Prof. Alan Deidun, Dr Adam Gauci and Dr Anthony Galea and the support of technical and administrative staff members Raisa Galea De Giovanni, Audrey Zammit and Tiziana Bartolo. John Spiteri from the Chemistry Department assisted in the water quality measurements.
The one-year MSc in Applied Oceanography is a full-time day course held over three semesters delivered with the participation of an international faculty, including experts in operational oceanography.
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