Successful AUV Deployments in South Australia
In June 2008, we were invited by the Department of Environment and Heritage (DEH) South Australia to survey a number of sites around the Sir Joseph Banks Island group in the Spencer Gulf, SA. This area is being considered for inclusion in a new Marine Park. We surveyed a dozen sites around the major islands both on the windward and sheltered sides of the islands. The surveys will be combined with sidescan sonar surveys to facilitate the identification of benthic habitats characterising the area.
Following the deployments with DEH, we travelled to Whyallah, SA to participate in the study of giant cuttlefish. An aggregation of many hundreds of thousands of cuttlefish occurs there each year in a relatively small area of the foreshore. In collaboration with Prof. Roger Hanlon of the Marine Biological Laboratories in Woods Hole we secured funding from National Geographic to use the AUV to study the nocturnal camouflage behaviour of these animals. Previous work has suggested that these animals are able to camouflage themselves at night in spite of there being little light with which to see the background against which they are hiding. The AUV was used to conduct night time surveys to document their nocturnal behaviour.