• Into the blue

    Into the blue

    Robotic ocean gliders are scouring the waters off the coast of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, gathering invaluable data to be used to protect Africa’s fisheries industries.

    The project – a collaboration between Nelson Mandela University (NMU) and the UK’s National Oceanography Centre (NOC) – is investigating how natural cycles and climate change are impacting west Indian Ocean fishing operations.

    Each of the three ocean gliders has specialist capabilities, ‘measuring ocean structure and mixing, sensors for measuring nutrients that fuel growth, and an echo-sounder that can detect schools of fish and other marine life’, according to the NOC.

    The mission is also testing whether developing nations can use marine autonomous technologies instead of large research ships, which are often too expensive for the vast majority of Africa’s coastal states.

    NMU, in particular, plans to use the collated data to discover more about previous devastating crashes in South African squid fisheries.

    Another mission is planned in Zanzibar later this year.

    26 March 2019
    Image: Alamy