Ocean Aero’s Triton to Collect Samples for HAB Monitoring

As part of the NOAA-led Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) Ocean Technology Transition (OTT) program, the University of Washington, Oregon State University, Ocean Aero, the Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems (NANOOS), and NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center partners will receive $1 million in funding over the next three years to enhance and deploy Ocean Aero’s Triton-class autonomous vehicle to augment HAB (harmful algal bloom) sampling at remote offshore locations on the Oregon and Washington coasts.

Unlike vessel-based sampling that is often hampered by rough weather conditions common during
seasons when HABs are of the greatest concern—namely the early spring and the fall—Ocean Aero’s
Triton can survive extreme ocean conditions and operate in sea states of up to 15 ft. with 30-kt. winds.
The Triton can conduct sampling when smaller human-operated vessels can’t sample. The Triton is
wind and solar powered and has a significantly reduced carbon footprint than conventional sampling

With the ability to travel at an average speed of 2 to 3 kt., the Triton will be launched from a marina, travel
offshore for roughly 12 to 24 hr. (~40 to 70 km), and then return to port, collecting up to 10 to 15
georeferenced, time-stamped water samples at designated waypoints. Once ashore, the
samples will be rapidly analyzed for HAB species types and cell concentrations as well as toxin (domoic
acid) concentrations. Processing will be completed within ~24 to 30 hr. of the first sample collected, with
the results transferred to an online data display developed by NANOOS on the HABs website.

The improved offshore HAB sampling by the Ocean Aero Triton will provide valuable measurements to
the Pacific Northwest (PNW) HAB Bulletin, ground-truthing HAB forecasts, significantly enhancing HAB
forecast accuracy, and providing essential measurements of toxin concentration–which presently cannot
be modeled with skill. Additionally, for several days to a week following the deployments, the rapid
measurements will act as an early-warning system, allowing the detection (within 36 hr. of sampling) of
offshore HABs and toxins prior to them reaching inshore areas where there is increased risk to human
health and fisheries. Both of these results will significantly reduce the risk and the economic impacts of
HABs in the PNW. 

This project will rely heavily on existing partnerships to carry out the proposed deployments, including
NANOOS, which is the Pacific Northwest IOOS Regional Association, the Olympic Regional Harmful
Algal Bloom (ORHAB) Partnership, the Oregon State University (OSU)-NOAA (CIMRS) partnership and
collaboration with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. This approach will both ensure close
integration with existing HAB monitoring efforts and will facilitate the transition to long-term operations.

Learn more at: www.oceanaero.com.

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