Autonomous Underwater Surveys in Antarctica, and Related Developments

George Cutter

NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center 

Friday, Oct. 9, 2020, 3:10pm
Chase 130

NOAA's Antarctic Ecosystem Research Division manages and implements the U.S. Antarctic Marine Living Resources Program. AERD science supports ecosystem-based management of fisheries in the Southern Ocean. For about 30 years, AERD conducted ship-based surveys of Antarctic krill and the ecosystem. Beginning in 2018, AERD shifted to surveys implemented using autonomous underwater gliders and submerged mooring platforms. Glider sonar data are used to estimate krill biomass, and moored, combined ADCP-echosounder data are used to estimate krill transport. Acoustic target classification is done using multiple bands from the wideband, moored echosounder, and target size and identification relies on predator diets, and predator borne cameras provide information about predator-prey encounters and interactions. Analysis of the camera imagery uses VIAME, an open-source, DIY AI/ML framework. I'll describe the systems (gliders, moorings, sensors, sonars), successes, and challenges that we have encountered while conducting surveys using autonomous platforms in Antarctica.


George Cutter is a Research Oceanographer with NOAA. He works at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, in San Diego, California. Since 2018, he has been with the Antarctic Ecosystem Research Division doing work related to acoustic surveys of krill biomass and transport, and autonomous survey platforms such as gliders and moorings, and automated image analysis. Prior to working with AERD, he worked in the Fisheries Resources Division on AUVs, technology development, fishery biomass estimation, seafloor classification, and mapping using split- and multi-beam sonars. He did his Ph.D. work at UNH CCOM.