During a monitoring effort of a recent red tide bloom Corpus Christi Bay, Emily deployed an AUV (autonomous underwater vehicle) to collect data on the spatial extent of the bloom. The torpedo-shaped AUV moves through the water along a specified path, and continuously logs water quality parameters like water temperature, salinity, and chlorophyll concentration. The path of this recent mission extended from University Beach to Swantner Park, a 4-hour trip for the AUV. Because chlorophyll concentrations are representative of phytoplankton abundances, the chlorophyll readings from the recent AUV deployment can be used to look at the overall size and intensity of the recent red tide bloom, and identify potential red tide “hot spots.” While Emily has been leading deployments of the AUV in local bays since 2013, this is the first time the AUV has been used for red tide monitoring in Corpus Christi Bay.
Emily, a Ph.D. candidate in the Coastal and Marine System Science Program, has previously deployed the AUV in Baffin Bay, which is known for persistent brown tide blooms and is the focus of her dissertation research. Her research in Baffin Bay will describe the spatial and temporal trends of the phytoplankton community in the system and connect these trends to environmental (e.g., temperature, salinity) and anthropogenic (e.g., nutrient loading) factors. She hopes the results from her work can be used to guide effective management decisions for Baffin Bay and similar coastal systems.