Working closely with data processing software developers, Australian marine scientists are boosting their contribution to the global project.
Bio-acoustic data provide an indicator of abundance, distribution and behaviour of mid-trophic level organisms (macro-zooplankton and micronekton communities between 2 cm and 20 cm in length) needed for ecosystem-based fisheries management, marine planning and monitoring impacts of climate change and variability.
These species are a key link between the phytoplankton and smaller zooplankton and higher predators in marine food webs. They transfer energy from primary producers at the ocean surface to top predators such as tunas, billfish, sharks, seals and seabirds, thereby actively transporting carbon from surface waters to the deep-ocean.
Since July 2010, the IMOS Bio-Acoustic program has operated as a Ships of opportunity (SOOP) sub-facility, collecting data from vessels traversing the Indian Ocean and waters south and east of Australia and across to New Zealand. Between 2010 and 2015 161,793 km of data were collected and processed
A number of vessels are participating in the bio-acoustics program depending on location and availability (5-10). Some of the vessels are commercial fishing vessels that have agreed to record data during transits to and from fishing grounds, while others are scientific research vessels
Leader of the IMOS Bio-Acoustic sub-facility, Dr Rudy Kloser, believes the Echoview software and ongoing interaction with developers at the company, have been important factors in being able to deliver quality data to users.
"We’ve had a long and successful association with Echoview, and our team talks to the Echoview people regularly to discuss our needs.
"We are constantly striving to obtain better software tools to improve data quality and reduce data processing time," said Dr Kloser.
Echoview Fisheries Scientist, Dr Francisco Neira, appreciates the opportunity to work with the IMOS Bio-Acoustics team.
"Being able to work directly with Dr Kloser and his colleague Tim Ryan is very valuable as it enables us to continually improve Echoview to meet the specialised needs of our clients, and allow us to keep up with the latest developments in the bio-acoustic space in terms of mid-water ecology and fisheries research in the marine ecosystem," says Dr Neira.
The mass and distribution of micronekton reflects broad-scale patterns in the structure and function of the ocean, as well as the dynamics of marine ecosystems. Bio-Acoustic data, combined with information from other established observing systems greatly enhance the capacity of marine scientists to monitor these species. Monitoring shifts in food availability over time, assists in understanding the behaviour of top predators and provides inputs to ecosystem models, fisheries and climate change and variation indicators.
The goal of the IMOS Bio-Acoustic sub-facility is to improve knowledge and to develop a reliable predictive capacity combining observation and modelling for single species and ecosystem dynamics at short, medium and long term scales.
As the number of vessels, acoustic frequencies (including broadband) and hence data volumes grow, Dr Kloser’s team relies on software that is evolving to meet these needs.
The IMOS Bio-Acoustics team looks forward to working with Echoview to continue developing and improving the data processing software in order to provide researchers with the highest quality data.