Scientists use underwater robot to spy on zooplankton at night

phys.org | 1/10/2018 | Staff
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Zooplankton are the foundation of the marine food chain. These tiny organisms provide food and energy to fish, sea birds, and other marine mammals—including the bowhead whale, which feeds exclusively on zooplankton. What do zooplankton eat? They feed on phytoplankton, which rely on sunlight.

But in the Arctic Ocean during winter months, there is little to no light. Still, scientists have observed that zooplankton migrate from the deep ocean up to the surface. But this phenomenon is difficult to study. Most research vessels produce light pollution, or artificial light, which alters the zooplanktons' natural behavior.

Enter - Hanumant - Singh - Professor - Computer

Enter Hanumant Singh, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Northeastern, who builds robots like the Jetyak, an autonomous vehicle that's shaped like a kayak and includes a gas-powered engine. Now, one of the more than a dozen Jetyaks Singh has designed for researchers around the world is being used to spy on zooplankton.

"What's been interesting is that the Norwegians went and did something very cool with the Jetyak," Singh said, referring to a project led by Jørgen Berge at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. In a paper published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, Singh and his colleagues describe a breakthrough in Berge's ability to examine zooplankton migration in the Arctic polar night.

Time - Zooplankton - Behavior - Relation - Ambient

"For the first time, we were able to unequivocally document and quantify zooplankton behavior in relation to the natural ambient and extreme low-light climate," Berge said. He and his colleagues compared data the Jetyak collected with...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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