From massive harmful algae blooms to starving sea lion pups and millions of red ocean crabs washing ashore, changes in ocean temperature and currents are having a dramatic impact on the diversity, health and abundance of fish and marine life off the California coasts, and other places.
While Sanctuary managers, fisherman and tourists have long observed such changes – scientists have needed better tools to explain the links, cycles, and predict impacts.
To more rapidly detect, define, and potentially forecast such changes, scientists tested new technologies in Monterey Bay in an innovative, month-long experiment in April-May 2017. For the first time ever, marine scientists deployed five long-range autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), four profiling gliders, a wave glider, and two ships to characterize the ocean in a coastal area.
The project is part of an interdisciplinary, multi-institutional experiment that includes the MBON initiative, which is conducting concurrent research activities using satellites, ships, submersible vehicles and sample collection systems off Alaska, California, and Florida.
“Integrating multiple AUVs – which transmit data in near real time — is really the future of marine science and resource management,” said Francisco Chavez, Senior Scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. Chavez’s team coordinated the deployment in collaboration with multiple state and federal agencies, and universities.
Researchers worked jointly on the Research Vessel Western Flyer, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute’s (MBARI) research vessel, and the Research Vessel Reuben Lasker, managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Southwest Fisheries Science Center.