The Autonomous Surface Vehicle is being launched.
The Autonomous Surface Vehicle is being launched.

The National Oceanography Centre (NOC) has launched its robot technology to measure marine wildlife in the Celtic Sea.

The Celtic Sea is south of Ireland, below the Irish Sea and to the west of England and France.

Celtic Sea
Celtic Sea

Working in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the NOC has deployed a submarine glider and an Autonomous Surface Vehicle. These two robotic vehicles will now work together over the next three weeks to investigate why the deep area of the Celtic sea is particularly attractive to marine predators like dolphins and seabirds.

The Celtic Sea contains known hotspots for marine animals, including the Fin Whale and the globally threatened Balearic Shearwater. However, greater densities of observations are needed to better understand why these animals are attracted to such ‘spots’ in the ocean.

Fin Whale
Fin Whale

Professor Russell Wynn, who is co-ordinating the research, says “The two vehicles on this mission are bristling with novel sensors that will act as our eyes and ears in the water, observing and detecting seabirds and marine mammals. The vehicles will also be continuously collecting data about weather conditions at the sea surface, as well as the temperature and salinity of the water column, and the distribution and abundance of plankton and fish prey.”

You can follow the progress of the robot at http://mars.noc.ac.uk/mission.php?missionid=22

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