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EMA: Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Research

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auv in water
REMUS preparing to dive in Auke Bay

AFSC researchers and their partners are testing a new way to track tagged fish and collect data on the marine environment around Juneau. They are using an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) to learn how useful it would be for future studies on the movements of fish in salt water. The project is a partnership between NOAA, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, University of Alaska Fairbanks, and Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. It is funded by a grant from the North Pacific Research Board. More details can be learned at the project's home page or by contacting John Eiler using the information provided below

Researchers can program the torpedo-shaped AUV, also called REMUS, to cruise silently underwater, detecting and recording fish tagged with acoustic tags that use low-frequency sounds. Other sensors on the vehicle collect environmental data, including current speeds, water temperature, salinity, oxygen concentrations, and chlorophyll levels, while a side-scan sonar records images of the ocean floor. The AUV can operate independently for over 12 hours, traveling at varying depths along a pre-programmed path, surfacing periodically to check and correct its position using a global positions system (GPS).

Movements of acoustically tagged fish
Movements of acoustically tagged fish

The marine waters around Juneau provide a rigorous test for AUV technology. The varied topography of the area and diverse ocean conditions allow a series of trial missions to thoroughly evaluate the AUV’s capabilities and performance. Researchers have tagged twenty fish, including sablefish, Pacific cod, halibut, and Alaska king crab, with acoustic tags to provide ‘moving targets’ for the AUV. They have also deployed tags on stationary buoys (from surface to 600 meters) to provide targets at known locations and depths. The tags are also being tracked from boats to compare the AUV results with more traditional survey methods. This will allow researchers to compare the accuracy, efficiency and costs of collecting data with AUVs versus collecting the same data using fixed acoustic sensors. If the technology proves viable, it could be used to determine the distribution, movements, and habitat use of important commercial and forage fish such as sablefish, halibut, rockfish, pollock, and herring.


Related Links:
North Pacific Research Board
Rutgers Fish Tracking
REMUS


Contact:
John Eiler
Auke Bay Laboratories
Alaska Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries

Ted Stevens Marine Research Institute
17109 Pt Lena Loop Rd
Juneau AK 99801
(907) 789-6033
John.Eiler@noaa.gov


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