Sea-surfing ‘wave glider’ robot deployed to help track white sharks in the Pacific

Block Lab, Stanford University, Monterey Bay, CA, USA


New high-tech ocean observers debut above ‘The Blue Serengeti’; ‘Shark Net’ app lets public follow tagged animals in real time

Monterey Bay, CA, August 16, 2012—A sleek, unmanned Wave Glider robot has been deployed off the US coast near San Francisco — the latest addition to an arsenal of ocean observing technologies revealing in real time the mysterious travels of great white sharks and other magnificent marine creatures.

The self-propelled wave and solar-powered glider is part of a new network of data receivers on fixed buoys that will pick up signals from acoustic tags on animals passing within 1,000 feet and transmit the data to a research team on shore, led by Stanford University Marine Sciences Prof. Barbara Block.

The long-lasting, relatively inexpensive acoustic tags and the local array of both fixed and mobile ocean transmitters will fine tune 12 years of insights gleaned from satellite-connected tags used to follow thousands of animals throughout their entire Pacific journeys.

Dr. Block and her team are on a mission to create a “wired ocean” where live feeds of predator movements are relayed by a series of “ocean WiFi hotspots” on moored buoys and self-propelled Wave Gliders carrying acoustic receivers.

The technology is central to Dr. Block’s “Blue Serengeti Initiative,” which builds on the Tagging of Pacific Predators (TOPP) project, part of the international Census of Marine Life (2000-2010).

News release in full: click here

Sample coverage: by The Scientist, click here; by Reuters, click here; by TIME, click here.  YouTube video of the Wave Glider launch, click here

Coverage summary, click here