WHOI Scientists Unveil New Robot to Speed Ocean Sampling

Principal investigators John Breier of UTRGV (left), Mak Saito (center) and Mike Jakuba of WHOI, with the AUV Clio— the world’s first underwater vehicle designed specifically to collect both biological and chemical samples from the ocean water column. Photo by: Katherine Spencer Joyce, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

WOODS HOLE – Officials at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution have unveiled the world’s first underwater vehicle designed specifically to collect both biological and chemical samples from the ocean water column.

The project, dubbed Clio, is a collaboration between WHOI and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Clio successfully completed sea trials last month and will now be used to aid scientists in better understanding the inner workings of the ocean.

According to scientists, Clio will improve sampling efficiency and also reduce the time and cost of broad biogeochemical surveys, which are necessary to understand patterns and cycles of the marine food web and the role that the ocean plays in shaping Earth’s climate.

Clio, which is roughly the size of a large refrigerator, can dive to a maximum depth of 3.7 miles and operate underwater for 12 to 14 hours at a time.

Clio then returns to the surface with stacks of filters representing 100s of liters of seawater that oceanographers can use to measure the genetic and functional diversity of marine microorganisms, as well as nutrients that control their diversity.

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