Saab ROV undertakes acoustic tracker recovery
A Saab Seaeye Falcon underwater robotic vehicle is helping find lost aquatic animal tracking stations in oceans around the world.
The Ocean Tracking Network (OTN) based at Canada’s Dalhousie University is deploying the Falcon to recover acoustic tracking receivers missing from deployment sites on the seabed, principally in the waters of the Northwest Atlantic, the test hub of OTN.
OTN also expects its Falcon to be very busy with many missions beyond tending equipment and tasks will also include capturing underwater film footage that will be used to help engage the public in communicating OTN’s research activities and results.
OTN is the world’s aquatic animal tracking network with over 2,000 acoustic tracking stations located across five oceans in order to monitor species that migrate between fresh and salt waters.
Despite its sophisticated technology, the monitoring process is quite simple. Scientists tag a wide range of aquatic species including salmon, sharks, crabs, and seals, to name a few — with small electronic transmitters (primarily acoustic tags, but also satellite and data archival tags).
Acoustic receivers pick up coded signals from acoustic tags, which identify individual tagged creatures that pass within the receiver’s range. Tags and receivers can also be outfitted with sophisticated sensors that measure temperature, depth, salinity, currents, chemistry and other properties.
During their time underwater, up to 5% of receivers may pose recovery problems, either due to equipment failure, biofouling, or extreme environmental conditions that move the stations away from their deployment coordinates. This leaves valuable equipment and extremely valuable data stranded on the ocean floor.
On these occasions, the Falcon can be sent anywhere in the world to try and find the missing equipment.
By Anne-Marie Causer
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