As the future of our planet comes under greater scrutiny every day, the importance of accurate and up-to-date marine research grows in kind. The behavior of sea life and of the oceans themselves will sometimes be the first clues scientists get for what might be a vital change in our environment; it is, therefore, essential that we are able to gather accurate, timely data and interpret it correctly.
So marine research is, without doubt, a matter of some importance. It is also a challenging field, with all the usual tests placed upon the researchers combined with the considerable difficulty of being placed at sea. Ocean science places its own, specific demands upon the researcher, and the quality of their research may often be dependent upon the research vessel they have access to. For a greater understanding of the role of research vessels in ocean science and marine research, please read on.
Vessels give researchers access to awkward areas
Ocean exploration is naturally more challenging than the same exploration on solid ground; for the 29% of our planet that is not submerged, things stay more or less where they are and how they are. At sea, observing the shape of things is much more challenging. Water is inherently unstable. So the use of a research vessel is important, allowing researchers to find an area of sea that they need to study, drop anchor, and deploy resources from this stable platform.
Equipment, divers and even secondary vehicles in the form of submersibles can be used once the researcher has located the area of water that they are seeking to understand. This adds a key extra string to the bow of marine researchers and allows them to better understand marine life in more remote areas of ocean, as well as potentially diving to the wreckage, old or new, that may hold secrets we need to know.
Research vessels act as floating laboratories
As any scientist knows, the accuracy of data can easily be affected by delays in the analysis. Even an hour or more can make a difference. Collecting material to be analyzed back at the lab may be insufficient when in some cases it will need to be looked at more or less instantly. Research vessels are, therefore, all the more important because they allow research and analysis to be carried out without delay. A well-equipped research vessel can provide all the functionality of a floating laboratory.
Research vessels are designed to contain and support a wealth of lab equipment, electronics, and communications devices, so you can extract material for analysis and, within minutes, have the initial results of your analysis begin to be beamed back to dry land. Any skilled marine biologist will be delighted with the advantages afforded to them by properly-equipped research vessels.
Research vessels go where other craft fear to tread
We need information from all parts of the ocean at all times, not least in the changing environment that we are trying to understand. With that taken into account, we cannot help but acknowledge that some parts of the ocean are easier to monitor than others and that the tougher-to-access areas may require closer attention. With that said, not all craft can get to the trickier areas. In a world where even a standard commercial crossing can be made stressful by higher winds, respect has to be paid to how hazardous the high seas can become.
It is for this reason that research vessels are built in the hulls of tougher boats, with former ice-breaking crafts having been used for the job in the past (and present). If we want to learn more about all areas of the ocean, we need to use crafts that can safely and comfortably access the toughest areas. Research vessels are designed to achieve this very thing, whether in polar waters or in narrow straits which may be inaccessible to more conventional vessels.
Research vessels are essential in multiple fields
Research vessels allow us to have a better understanding of the oceans, but it is worth recognizing just how far and wide their use goes. The information gleaned from such vessels has applications in many fields. For example, one of the prime functions of research vessels is hydrographic survey. This form of research allows for more accurate mapping of the seas for shipping purposes. Thanks to hydrographic survey research, we know which routes are passable by both civilian and military crafts.
Other research vessels carry out work to understand the water on which they sail. This may entail close chemical and biological analysis of the water. Thanks to these vessels we can learn more about pollution at sea. With the ongoing threat of the melting of polar ice, the same crafts can analyze chemicals that may have been released into the water, better to understand the extent of any such melting.
Further vessels may have more commercial applications, which may include being used for the analysis of fish stocks. The better we understand the water around us, the more we can apply that knowledge for a range of purposes, and the better we can understand the world. So, whether it is to find out whether a certain area is likely to be profitable for fishing trawlers, or another area needs to be the focus of close attention and ecological efforts, the importance of research vessels should be clear to anyone.
Research vessels play a major part in our scientific understanding of the seas, allowing us to have concrete scientific data where once we could at best have speculated at a conclusion. As vessels become more technologically advanced, we will be able to collect and analyze more evidence from the seas that make up nearly three-quarters of the planet we inhabit. The more we learn from having research vessels at sea, the more cohesive a picture we will have of the planet we all live on – and with the growing importance of environmental science, it goes without saying that ocean-going research vessels are vitally important.