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Vessels avoidance during hydroacoustics surveys in the Great Lakes.

Tom Evans, Lars Rudstam, Jim Watkins, Suresh Sethi, Peter Esselman, David Warner, Dan Yule, Tom O’Brien and others at USGS and cooperating agencies. (Funded by USGS)

This new project uses acoustic data collected with saildrones and automated underwater vehicles to evaluate the avoidance reaction of fish to survey vessels.  Saildrones are unmanned quiet surface drone operated by wind and collecting data for a month at the time.  The saildrone data is primarily used to evaluate fish avoidance. Over 30 combined data sets with both saildrones and survey vessels are being analyzed from lakes Michigan and Huron.  The AUVs can operate for several weeks and will be used for the first time in Lake Superior next year. AUV data is primarily used to evaluate the importance of fish distributed in the surface and bottom regions that are not sampled with traditional ship-based acoustics.  Tom Evans was hired as the postdoc on this project in 2021.  This project will continue for several years and will move to lakes Erie and Ontario in 2023. We will also use these data to look at day and nighttime differences in distributions of fish and invertebrates in the Great Lakes.