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Ocean research in a time of COVID-19

During the Summer 2020 CANON experiment, these two Wave Gliders have been zig-zagging over Monterey Canyon, using echosounders to locate fish and other animals in the water below. The echosounders are the cylindrical devices near the back of each Wave Glider. The olive-green foils under the Wave Gliders help propel these autonomous robots across the sea surface. Credit: Chris Wahl/MBARI The COVID-19 pandemic has made it especially challenging for marine scientists to make observations and carry out experiments at sea. Research cruises have been cut back or canceled because it is difficult to keep a safe distance between scientists and crew in the tight spaces on a research vessel. In this current situation, MBARI’s robotic vehicles and instruments have proven to be very useful.

A case in point is MBARI’s Summer 2020 Controlled, Agile, and Novel Ocean Network (CANON) experiment, which runs from July 14 to August 4. Research Associate Katie Pitz, who was involved in planning the operation, explained, “For this year’s experiment, the actual sampling is being done by autonomous instruments and vehicles that can be monitored remotely by scientists onshore. MBARI has been advancing autonomous technologies for a long time, so this is a great example of […]

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