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A multi-institution research team will deploy experimental technology next week to explore the deep scattering layers of the ocean.
The team which includes marine scientist Kevin Boswell from Florida International University, is looking for information about animals in the Gulf of Mexico that make up the scattering layers—those that undergo daily vertical migrations of 100 to 1,000 meters. These animals represent the largest organized animal migration on the planet, yet little is known about them. What scientists do know is these animals are major players in the global carbon cycle, transporting carbon to deeper waters as they migrate. Some of them are part of a global discussion about whether they could have economic potential from a fisheries standpoint.
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The research team will deploy an autonomous glider modified with sonar technology to collect up-close and personal data on the migrating animals in the water column. The slow-moving glider can stealthily travel through the water measuring where organisms are and how they are moving. An exciting addition to the glider is an "acoustic brain" developed by the University of Washington that processes acoustic data and sends data products home through a satellite connection. The team will simultaneously deploy a prototype camera system developed by the National Geographic Society called the Driftcam. Also an autonomous device, the Driftcam is designed to collect high-resolution images of species composition, distribution and even behavior that is not possible to capture with current technologies and methods. It too, is a minimally invasive device.
The research project is supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Office of Ocean Exploration and Research. Boswell leads the research team which includes scientists...
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