3D Real-time Tracking, Following and Imaging of White Sharks with an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle

Amy L. Kukulya, Roger Stokey, Robin Littlefield, Frederic Jaffre, Edgar Mauricio Hoyos Padilla, Gregory Skomal

Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV) 2016 IEEE/OES, pp. 423-430.


DOI: https://doi.org/10.1109/AUV.2016.7778707




Little is known about deep-water predatory attacks and behavior of white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias). Revealing how ocean predators operate and forage within their environment is fundamental to the protection of the species and their ecosystem. It is very difficult to quantify habitat use and behavior of large marine animals that may range widely and are not easy to observe directly, such as sharks. Studies of shark foraging ecology and feeding behavior are extremely difficult as predation events are rarely witnessed. Also, these studies often cannot identify the habitat in which a shark feeds, making definition of critical habitats difficult [1]. Currently, satellite and acoustic tags are used to follow the migration of white sharks, however this method limits information acquisition about detailed behaviors therefore leaving gaps in scientists understanding of dynamic movement of marine animals. Recent developments in fine-scale spatial 3D tracking and imaging of large sharks with an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) have given scientists a never before seen view into hunting and foraging behaviors of these animals in the wild [2]. While tracking pelagic predators is no longer a novel idea, improved imaging sensors and navigation capabilities continue to evolve thus making observations of behaviors in deep water even more possible. Significant improvements have been made in hardware and software capabilities from lessons learned while tracking basking sharks and white sharks in Cape Cod in 2012 using a specially modified Remote Environmental Monitoring UnitS REMUS AUV known as SharkCam developed in the Oceanographic Systems Lab (OSL) at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI. The capabilities and field results from a second expedition taken place near Guadalupe Island, Mexico from November 2013 are presented in this paper.




Tracking, SharkCam, A UV, Transponder




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