Zooglider – The Underwater Robot That Can Sense Plankton Both Optically And Acoustically

Source: Phys.org/UC San Diego

Photo: Matt Hardy/Unsplash

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Oceanographers and engineers at the University of California San Diego collaborated to modify a common physical oceanography instrument to be able to image zooplankton as it glides through the ocean.

The robot, dubbed Zooglider, uses as its platform a Scripps-developed glider known as Spray. Ohman and Scripps instrument developers outfitted the torpedo-shaped Spray gliders with a camera (called Zoocam) and a device researchers call Zonar that gathers  about zooplankton – free-drifting microscopic marine animals – in the manner of a sonar instrument. This promises a priceless view of how  is responding to climate change.

Co-author Jeffrey Ellen from UC San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering is creating methods by which Zooglider image data can be analyzed through machine learning.

Zooglider can acquire images of zooplankton every five centimeters (two inches) to depths of 400 meters (1,300 feet) or more as it channels seawater into an on-board sampling tunnel. The new instrument represents a breakthrough in that it enables observations of microscopic life in its habitat and provides information about that life in spatial context.

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Photo: Matt Hardy/Unsplash

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