Gliderpalooza II: Glide Harder

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August 28 marked the first of two glider missions for the second instalment of the Ocean Tracking Network’s participation in Gliderpalooza. OTN’s slocum glider, OTN200, took to the waves off Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia, during a day of filming for Canadian political satirist Rick Mercer’s The Rick Mercer Report (stay tuned for the season premier in October).

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Between filming and launching gliders, the OTN team tagged seven juvenile blue sharks with acoustic tags and eight with non-acoustic (spaghetti) tags, successfully wrapping up the second, and last, season of blue shark tagging towards documenting the behaviour of blue sharks in the area.

Last year, OTN200 detected several blue sharks on its Gliderpalooza mission off Halifax, Nova Scotia. This project demonstrates the synergy between missions designed for multiple projects such as oceanographic data collection and animal-monitoring studies.

Tracking technologies have advanced beyond fixed acoustic receiver stations, which provide broad-scale information on animal-movements; gliders outfitted with Vemco mobile transceivers (VMTs) provide expanded acoustic telemetry coverage, environmental context and measurements of marine animal habitat such as water temperature, salinity and oxygen concentration for both detections captured by the glider’s VMT and those captured on the acoustic array around which they patrol.

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Glider data has made its way into the blue shark year one field report as well as being featured in near real time on the OTN glider page. In addition to animal-tracking studies, data from Gliderpalooza is uploaded to the Global Telecommunications System, which can be used to inform atmospheric-oceanographic models. Data captured by gliders on the Atlantic Shelf during storm season adds critical elements that boost prediction and forecast models, which invariably impact coastal communities and economic activities like tourism and commercial fishing.

On Tuesday, September 2, the glider team launched OTN201 off Jordan Bay, Nova Scotia, along with a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute glider We10. Our glider will measure phytoplankton and zooplankton abundance around Nova Scotia’s south shore with a brand-new echosounder in an effort to shed light on the ecology of the North Atlantic right whales in the area. This study is also part of MEOPAR’s Whales, Habitat and Listening Experiment (WHaLE).

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We were happy to assist WHOI in the glider deployment, further demonstrating collaboration potential between institutions. WHOI’s glider is equipped with a passive acoustic hydrophone, listening for right whale calls and reporting the positions of whales.

The gliders finish the first of their 2014 Gliderpalooza deployments later this month.

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