An underwater robot was deployed by Mote Marine Laboratory, with assistance from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), on Thursday in Collier County waters to patrol for environmental conditions that might relate to a recent fish kill there.
The robot, nicknamed Nemo, is an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) carrying scientific instruments that can detect multiple species of algae, including those harmful to marine life and humans. Nemo also carries equipment to detect levels of dissolved oxygen, which fish and other marine animals need to survive.
Mote Instrumentation Systems Engineer Alan Hails and Mote Intern Jennifer Vreeland prepare to deploy the AUV nicknamed “Nemo” about 15 miles off Collier County. Photo Copyright Mote Marine Laboratory.A research crew, including staff from Mote's Phytoplankton Ecology Program and NMFS, deployed Nemo just after 2 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 4, about 15 miles offshore of Collier County.
The AUV will patrol for a week or less along a pre-programmed course six to 20 miles offshore. It will continuously sample the water and send data to Mote scientists back at the lab every two hours via satellite transmitter. Continuous sampling provides more data than is possible to acquire by humans on boats - making AUV data more cost-effective.
Monitoring algae dynamics in Florida waters allows Mote scientists to investigate how and why algae blooms form, especially blooms of harmful species such as Florida red tide.