[MARMAM] New publication: Unmanned surface vehicles for remote focal follows

Carey Kuhn - NOAA Federal carey.kuhn at noaa.gov
Mon Feb 24 16:08:53 PST 2020

Dear MARMAM colleagues,
My coauthors and I are pleased to share our new open access publication:

Test of unmanned surface vehicles to conduct remote focal follow studies of
a marine predator

Carey E. Kuhn1, Alex De Robertis2, Jeremy Sterling1, Calvin W. Mordy3,4,
Christian Meinig4, Noah Lawrence-Slavas4, Edward Cokelet4, Mike Levine2,
Heather Tabisola3,4, Richard Jenkins5, David Peacock5, Danny Vo6

1Marine Mammal Laboratory, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Seattle, Washington, USA

2 Resource Assessment and Conservation Engineering Division, Alaska
Fisheries Science Center, NOAA, Seattle, Washington, USA

3Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean, University of
Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA

4Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, NOAA, Seattle, Washington, USA

5Saildrone Inc., Alameda, California, USA

6Wildlife Computers Inc., Redmond, Washington, USA

We tested the feasibility of using Saildrone unmanned wind- and
solar-powered surface vehicles to conduct remote focal follow studies of
northern fur seals Callorhinus ursinus. Using Argos satellite and
transmitted GPS locations, the Saildrones followed a fur seal while
recording oceanographic conditions and mapping prey abundance and depth
distribution using a scientific echosounder. The Saildrones successfully
followed 6 fur seals over 2.4 ± 0.2 d and 149.7 ± 16.3 km of the foraging
path. Median separation distance between the Saildrone and fur seal path
was 0.65 ± 0.1 km and average time separation was 9.9 ± 1.4 h, with minimum
time separations ranging from 1.9 to 4.9 h. Time and distance separation
were a function of both animal behavior and study design. Our results show
that Saildrones can approach satellite tracked marine predators from long
distances and follow them over extended periods while collecting
oceanographic and prey data. These successful focal follows demonstrate
that unmanned surface vehicles are a valuable tool for collecting data on
fine-scale relationships between marine predators, their prey, and the

Please, do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
Carey Kuhn
Marine Mammal Laboratory / NOAA Fisheries
Alaska Fisheries Science Center, Seattle, WA
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