Marine Science Faculty Publications

Using Three Acoustic Technologies on Underwater Gliders to Survey Fish

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fisheries echosounder, glider, acoustic tag telemetry, ocean observing systems, passive acoustic monitoring

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Autonomous platforms and vehicles are a growing component of the ocean research fleet, producing data sets crucial to our understanding of oceanographic and fishery ecosystem processes. One emerging tool for making these measurements is underwater gliders that autonomously sample the water column for weeks to months at a time. Although originally designed to measure temperature and salinity, underwater gliders can now support a myriad of sensors. For the demonstration project described within, three complementary acoustic technologies were integrated into an underwater glider for mapping fish on the continental shelf: an acoustic telemetry receiver, a passive acoustic monitoring recorder, and a fisheries echosounder.

The demonstration project was designed to evaluate the effectiveness of each sensing technology. Sixty-one fish were implanted with acoustic tags near the Gulfstream Natural Gas pipeline in the eastern Gulf of Mexico in advance of planned underwater glider missions. The glider was deployed four times over 12 months, with all three acoustic technologies to traverse the pipeline and surrounding habitat. Glider detections were compared to detections of fish at moored acoustic tag telemetry receivers and passive acoustic recorders co-located at the tagged fish locations. All three technologies identified fish along the targeted hard-bottom pipeline habitat, as well as previously uncharted areas of hard-bottom reef. The results of this study demonstrate the utility of gliders integrated with acoustic sensors as a potential tool to identify areas that merit deeper investigation to assess fish stocks.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Marine Technology Society Journal, v. 52, issue 6, p. 39-52