SoundingsXPRIZE Spotlights Ocean Health. XPRIZE, the organization that brought about technological and societal breakthroughs such as private space flight and 100 mpg cars via incentivized challenges, is turning its attention toward ocean health (Sea Technology, October 2013). The $2 million Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE is a global competition to encourage innovators to develop accurate, robust and affordable pH sensors to help better understand ocean acidification and the effects of climate change on the world’s oceans, the first step on the path to improving ocean health. Up next is “Go Deeper,” the biggest commitment XPRIZE has ever made to a single industry. Recognizing our oceans are in peril, Go Deeper is a new multiyear, multimillion dollar commitment to solving the grand challenge of ocean health. For the first time, XPRIZE will open its prize process to the public to help determine the Go Deeper XPRIZEs. Over the next seven years, the organization will launch three additional prizes to improve ocean health. XPRIZE sees governments around the world scaling back their ocean finance and believes private citizens and organizations can fill the void.
Work-Class ROV Ops Spending to Rise 80 Percent to 2017. Douglas-Westwood’s (DW) forecast for the operation of work-class ROVs to 2017 predicts a total ROV operations expenditure of $9.7 billion, an increase of nearly 80 percent over the previous five-year period. Drilling support accounts for three-quarters of expenditure between 2013 and 2017, and is expected to increase over the period by 13 percent. DW forecast almost 527,000 days of ROV drilling support in the next five years, of which the majority is made up of work on exploration and appraisal wells. Expenditure on construction support accounts for one-fifth of ROV operations, with repair and maintenance accounting for the remaining. Africa is forecast to experience strong demand from subsea development wells, driven by the discovery of new deepwater provinces offshore East Africa, and will remain the largest region, followed by Latin America and Asia. The Middle East has the lowest ROV spending and, along with Norway, will see a decline in spending. Latin America is set to show the strongest growth of all regions.
Bluefin Acquires SeeByte. Bluefin Robotics Corp. (Quincy, Massachusetts) has acquired SeeByte Ltd. (Edinburgh, Scotland). SeeByte will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Bluefin. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Bluefin is owned by Battelle (Columbus, Ohio). The combined companies will offer a complete suite of autonomy products for surface vehicles and underwater vehicles, both remotely operated and unmanned. Together, Bluefin Robotics and SeeByte will have full life-cycle capability, from research and development through design and manufacture to field operations, and will operate globally in both defense and commercial markets. Bluefin and SeeByte have worked together for more than five years developing software and capabilities for Bluefin platforms such as the Hovering AUV and Bluefin-21. SeeByte will continue to provide open architecture, platform-agnostic software products and support for clients across all market sectors, especially in the defense sector and commercial oil and gas industry. The development team will continue to support and evolve products such as SeeTrack Military, SeeTrack AutoTracker and SeeTrack CoPilot. All SeeByte staff and offices will be retained.
Sylvia Earle, Blue Ribbon Panel Relay State of the Oceans. The Global Partnership for the Oceans (GPO) was launched by the World Bank as a platform to bring together the perspectives of civil society groups, the private sector and international organizations to address the health of the oceans. With more than 20 experts from 16 countries, the Blue Ribbon Panel was charged with informing the GPO of priorities for sustainable oceans. The panel recently released a report outlining an approach to balance human dependence on the oceans with viability for the future. Sylvia Earle, a panelist and the founder of Mission Blue, spoke with =- and said that the group acknowledged the oceans are in trouble and proposed solutions in the report that focus on overfishing, habitat destruction and pollution, as well as practical alternatives to harmful practices. According to Earle, one of the best ways to help the oceans is to stay informed. “Without question, the greatest problem facing the ocean—and therefore the future of humankind—is the complacency borne of widespread ignorance about the importance of the ocean to the economy, health, security and very existence of every human being, past, present and future,” she said.
Atlantic Cod Pushing Further Into Arctic. As a result of climate change, the Atlantic cod has moved so far north that its juveniles now can be found in large numbers in the fjords of Spitsbergen, according to the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, which conducted an expedition to this region of the Arctic Ocean that used to be dominated by the Polar cod. The scientists now plan to investigate whether the two cod species compete with each other and which species can adapt more easily to the altered habitats in the Arctic. “The rising water temperatures mean that Atlantic cod is finding an ideal habitat here,” said Dr. Felix Mark of AWI. “We expect that the juveniles of this species, which used to be at home in the North Sea, are already dominating the warmer surface waters around Spitsbergen.” His questions now are whether and to what extent Atlantic and Polar cod compete with each other and to what extent increasing ocean acidification influences any rivalry. He and his colleagues suspect that the Atlantic cod can adapt better to increased ocean acidification and will therefore be able to displace the Polar cod from the common habitat. “A fight for the upper hand like this would have far-reaching consequences for the Arctic ecosystem because the Polar cod is an important part of the Arctic food web and food for other fish species as well as birds and marine mammals, such as whales or seals,” said Mark.