Oscar, our newly acquired OpenROV, has been tested out in the wild a few days ago. Acquired and assembled in the Fall 2013 and first tested within tanks, Oscar and his group had to patiently wait for the ice to melt from the Canadian lakes to be tested outside. Some lab members including Arnaud that helped assemble Oscar participated to its test in a pond during a nice sunny day last week. Oscar is an inexpensive open-source ROV developed by OpenROV capable of diving (in theory) down to around 75-100 meters. It is equipped with a camera feeding images in real-time to a computer at the surface, LED lights, two lasers used for scale and three propellers that allow its navigation. The test was successful despite a very turbid lake. After a few adjustments we are hoping for a test in the oceans in a near future!
It is time for some of us to go on the field. Katy Macpherson started her field work last week, together with the group of the MERLIN Lab (MUN Engineering). They will use the MUN Explorer AUV to map the seabed of Smith Sound, Newfoundland, in order to better understanding why this sound played such an important role in Atlantic Cod ecology in Newfoundland.
The MUN Explorer AUV is equipped with different technologies, including an R2Sonic Multibeam echosounder, a sidescan sonar and a sub-bottom profiler. The work will continue for a few more weeks. Stay tuned!
The lab was fortunate to host a number of international researchers this Spring. We had in April the visit of Drs Petra Simova and Vitezslav Moudry, professors in the Department of Applied Geoinformatics and Spatial Planning at the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague, Czech Republic. Drs Simova and Moudry were interested in spatial ecology and geoinformation. We then had a four-week long visit of Dr Yassine Lassoued of the Coastal and Marine research Centre (CMRC), University of Cork, Ireland that came to work with us on maritime vessel movement analysis. Finally, we are now hosting Dr Eric Desjardin (on the photo) of the Computer Sciences Department of the University of Reims Champagne-Ardennes, France, to collaborate on the quality of crowd-sourced geographic data. Those visits are opportunities to share knowledge and build collaborations around common research interests.
Rodolphe Devillers of the Marine Geomatics Lab and a team of scientists from Australia and USA just published a new study looking at the residual nature of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). The study criticizes the fact that MPAs are too often created in areas of the ocean showing little economic interest for industries such as finishing and oil and gas. The study can be downloaded for free in Open Access from the Journal of Aquatic Conservation Website. You can also look at the coverage made by the magazine Nature as well as English and French interviews done by Rodolphe for Canadian news medias.