The ACFR leads Australia’s Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) AUV Facility. IMOS is a nationally coordinated program designed to establish and maintain the research infrastructure required to support Australia’s marine science research. It has, and will maintain, a strategic focus on the impact of major boundary currents on continental shelf environments, ecosystems and biodiversity. The IMOS AUV facility generates physical and biological observations of benthic variables that cannot be cost-effectively obtained by other means and this project will provide support for its fifth year of operation and into the future. We have established an Australia-wide observing program that exploits recent developments in AUV systems to deliver precisely navigated time series benthic imagery at selected reference sites on Australia’s continental shelf. These AUV-based observations are providing a critical link between oceanographic and benthic processes for Australia’s IMOS program. More details of this program can be found here.
IMOS scientific end users have defined the location, extent and frequency of surveying of the sites that are being visited by the Facility’s AUVs. Over the course of five years we have conducted hundreds of dives at sites located around Australia, in the process collecting millions of seafloor images. The figure above shows a summary of the dive locations visited during this period. The focus of the sustained observing program has been on the establishment of benthic reference sites on both the east and west coasts along the full latitudinal range of the continent. The symbols on the figure designate the location of the survey sites and are colour coded by dominant habitat and sized proportional to the number of images currently available in the IMOS AUV Facility image archive.
Through our extensive fieldwork, we’ve seen some very interesting behaviour from fish and other marine life. Keep an eye out for the seasnake and sharks taking an interest in the AUV during recent surveys on the Great Barrier Reef.
In colder climates off of Tasmania, we also saw some playful behaviour from seals who seemed fascinated with the vehicle.