Hi! My name is Irina Zhulay, and I am a new postdoctoral research fellow within the Deep-Sea Biology group at the Department of Biological Sciences (https://www.uib.no/en/deepseabiology). For the next two years, I will be working on the EcoSafe project (https://www.uib.no/en/deepsea/149901/millions-eco-safe-ridge-mining-project), led by Dr. Pedro Ribeiro (https://www.uib.no/en/persons/Pedro.A..Ribeiro). The project is aimed to gain knowledge on Arctic deep-sea biota and environment across the Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge – a region where deep-sea mining is currently under consideration. Data generated during the project will shed some light on poorly known Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge ecosystems, which will further help to evaluate the potential impacts of the mining on these ecosystems and develop mitigation actions regarding the mining in the region. One of the main tools used in the project is an ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle), which is able to record video of the mysterious world of deep-sea marine creatures. Analysis of the video records collected with an ROV will be a focus of my work at UiB and will help fill some of the existing knowledge gaps on seafloor biotopes in the Arctic deep-sea ridge system.
Gaining knowledge of the Arctic deep-sea biota was also an aim of my PhD project at the UiT The Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø. Along with other scientists, I explored deep-sea ecosystems in the Amerasian part (Canada Basin and Chukchi Borderland) of the Arctic Ocean within the Hidden Ocean project (NOAA, https://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/05arctic/welcome.html and https://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/16arctic/welcome.html). My research focused on benthic epifauna (fauna that lives on top of sediments), their biodiversity, biological characteristics (traits), and food webs. The main approaches used during my PhD work were imagery analysis, biological trait analysis, and stable isotope analysis. The main questions of the thesis were:
(1) Who is there?
(2) What do they do?
(3) How is climate change impacting their food sources in the study area?
With my background and research interests, I hope to make a meaningful contribution to the EcoSafe project and help gain valuable baseline data before the mining activities occur. I am excited to be a part of the UiB team and looking forward to meeting new colleagues.
Best wishes, Irina