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Ocean Research


April 2014 Issue

Iridium to Help Transmit Data from Challenger Glider Mission
Iridium Communications Inc. (McLean, Virginia) will be a key technology sponsor to the Challenger Glider Mission, led by Rutgers University students and faculty. The mission plans to 'fly' 16 autonomous underwater gliders worldwide, covering all five ocean basins, collecting an unprecedented undersea data set to better equip researchers with the tools to predict the ocean's future and its impact on global weather.

The Challenger Glider Mission will be conducted from 2014 to 2016 through coordinated flights of the core glider fleet plus volunteered gliders from other academic and government institutions. Each glider will fly a 6,000 to 8,000 kilometer leg following the ocean gyre circulation around the five major ocean basins. The Teledyne Webb (Falmouth, Massachusetts) Slocum glider is a 2.2-meter AUV that collects data as it moves through the ocean in a sawtooth trajectory, achieving a forward speed of 25 to 35 kilometers per day. The primary vehicle navigation system uses an onboard GPS receiver coupled with an attitude sensor, depth sensor and altimeter to provide dead-reckoned navigation. Iridium, through its global satellite circuit switched data service, provides primary two-way communications.

Each glider will capture continuous readings of ocean temperature, salinity and currents. The data will be transmitted to researchers via the Iridium satellite network when the glider surfaces.

Origin of Lobsters Dates Back Earlier Than Supposed
Scientists have long believed that lobster-like crustaceans first appeared on Earth about 360 million years ago, but, using fossil records and DNA testing, scientists have determined the first lobster-like crustacean appeared 372 to 409 million years ago.

The study also examined the evolutionary relationships among lobsters, finding that present crayfish distributions mirror the breakup of the supercontinent Pangaea and Gondwana, the two southern supercontinents. The study also uncovered several potential new species of lobsters. These evolutionary relationships have implications for biodiversity estimates, increased evolutionary understanding, conservation efforts, fisheries management and aquaculture management.

IOLR to Use LinkQuest USBL for Research
LinkQuest (San Diego, California) delivered a TrackLink 5000HA long-range USBL acoustic tracking system to Israel Oceanographic & Limnological Research (IOLR). The system was installed and commissioned successfully by IOLR.

IOLR plans to use the TrackLink 5000HA USBL system with towed geophysical equipment in the research of the Levant continental margin, especially assessing the risks of submarine slides on the continental slope. The equipment will also be used by Israeli universities and students for conducting their own research.

The TrackLink 5000HA system will be used with IOLR's sampling equipment for the water column and the shallow sub-bottom. These types of sampling activities are conducted during IOLR's yearly monitoring studies of the water quality, marine organisms and subsurface of the Levant margin.

Loggerhead Sea Turtles Tracked in Atlantic During 'Lost Years'
Jeanette Wyneken, professor of biological science at Florida Atlantic University, and Kate Mansfield, a co-investigator at the University of Central Florida, are the first to successfully track neonate sea turtles in the Atlantic Ocean waters during what had previously been called their 'lost years'—the time after turtles hatch and head out to sea until they are seen again upon returning to nearshore waters as large juveniles. Not much has been known about the lost years.

The team tracked 17 neonate loggerhead sea turtles for periods ranging from 27 to 220 days and for distances ranging from 124 to 2,672 miles. While the turtles remain in oceanic waters off the Continental Shelf, the study found that little loggerhead turtles sought the surface of the water as predicted. But they do not necessarily remain within the major currents associated with the North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre. It was historically thought that loggerhead turtles hatching from Florida's east coast complete a long, developmental migration in a large circle around the Atlantic entrained in these currents. But the team's data suggest that turtles may drop out of these currents into the middle of the Atlantic or the Sargasso Sea. The team also found that the turtles mostly stayed at the sea surface, where they were exposed to the sun's energy, and the turtles' shells registered more heat than anticipated.

DNV GL, MPA Join to Promote Maritime R&D
DNV GL (Arnhem, Netherlands) and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) signed a memorandum of understanding to promote R&D and innovation in the maritime industry. It will promote maritime R&D in LNG research and technology, green ports, marine environment and resources, and organization of maritime-related thought leadership forums.

Indian RV to Explore Deep-Sea Mineral Deposits
The oceanographic research vessel RV Samudra Ratnakar, delivered to the Geological Survey of India (GSI) by Hyundai Heavy Industries (Ulsan, South Korea), is specially designed to carry out seabed mapping and mineral exploration in deep waters, along with geoscientific oceanographic research.

The ship is equipped with high-end technologically advanced instruments needed for geological, geophysical and geochemical explorations in offshore areas, and the deck layout has been specifically designed to accommodate the handling system and operation of a 30-meter Giant Piston Corer, provided by Ocean Scientific International Ltd. (OSIL), based in Havant, England.

Following the successful sea trials of survey equipment, the vessel embarked on its first of many marine geoscientific surveys. The cruise requirement was for multichannel bathymetric mapping of part of the Central Andaman Trough and the study of evolutionary history and possible locales of submarine hydrothermal mineralization in the basin and surrounding area.


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