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Environmental Technologies

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Woods Hole Sea Grant’s Environmental Technology theme focuses on the initiation of research projects that will develop and deploy innovative technologies to address specific problems in coastal ecosystems; and the development of extension and outreach activities to foster information transfer, education, and development of new monitoring and treatment technologies. Thematic components include:
  • Researcher Simon Thorrold at workMarine biotechnology, including the development of molecular markers for understanding contaminant effects in the environment and probes for application to ecological processes
  • Remediation technologies, including the development of new approaches to understanding the degradation of contaminants in the environment; and
  • Remote technologies for monitoring the marine environment.

visionGoal: New tools and technologies will be deployed that can be applied to predicting and monitoring changes in environmental variables and protecting resources in coastal ecosystems.

Objective 1: Principal investigators will conduct research projects that will develop and deploy innovative technologies to address specific problems in coastal ecosystems.

Objective 2: Extension and outreach staff will develop programs to facilitate information transfer about the development of new treatment and monitoring technologies.

Technology Aids Fishery Management

Assessing supply and balancing it with demand is no doubt one of the biggest challenges for fisheries managers. In California, the squid fishery is at or near maximum exploitation, and increasing values have resulted in added fishing pressure over the past decade. Complicating matters, squid have a 6–12-month life cycle, making successful annual recruitment to the fishery critical.

squid eggs“Squid are being exploited at an unprecedented rate, especially in Monterey Bay,” says Roger Hanlon, a scientist at the Marine Biological Laboratory who has studied squid behavior and reproduction for over 20 years. “Does it make sense to allow direct fishing of spawning squids before enough eggs are laid for next year’s recruitment class?” he asks.

To answer that question, California fisheries biologists and NOAA Sanctuary managers first needed information about the location of primary egg beds and inshore spawning grounds. With Sea Grant support, Hanlon, along with WHOI engineer Ken Foote, teamed up to marry technology and biology by designing an innovative project using sonar to locate squid eggs. Squids lay their eggs—up to 200 of them—in finger-shaped, gelatinous tubes. Female squids deposit the egg fingers into huge, communal egg masses, called mops. It turns out that side scan sonar can detect the presence of the egg mops, displaying them as dark spots on multi-beam bathymetry images taken from remotely operated vehicles. Investigators will refine the methodology and continue the survey of egg mass distribution in Monterey Bay on upcoming cruises in an effort to provide fishery and sanctuary managers with monitoring and stock assessment tools.

Last updated: June 24, 2014

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