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AUV sensor integration and science

AUV-mounted bioluminescence detector module
Project Manager/Lead Scientist: Steve Haddock
Lead Engineer: Hans Thomas


Last fall as part of the MUSE experiment, MBARI scientists led a coordinated program of oceanographic sampling in Monterey Bay. In addition to physical, optical and biological parameters, we measured high-resolution distributions of bioluminescence over large distances. Although this program was highly successful, and generated an excellent data set, the cruise was essentially a snapshot of one season. When we returned to the site four months later, the environment was completely different, as would be expected. We are therefore proposing a sampling program which will map bioluminescence and plankton distributions in the bay through various oceanographic seasons, and over two seasonal cycles. 

The goals of this study are to be able to model and predict bioluminescence in the bay, and to explain the origins (local blooms or advected water) and factors determining distributions of concentrations of bioluminescent organisms. This is significant because luminescence can be a general predictor of biomass (though easier to measure) and for several reasons may be an indicator of harmful algal blooms. Our approach to making the necessary measurements will be through the deployment of a bathyphotometers (BP) on an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) and on moorings in the Monterey Bay. The Office of Naval Research will provide ship time aboard the R/V Pt. Sur and support for a post-doc. Sampling and ship time will also be coordinated with the MUSE 2 experiments.