University of South Florida

USF College of Marine Science


Glider Fleet: Update

Deploying in 80 feet of water off the coast of Clearwater Beach, one of USF's autonomous underwater gliders, named JaiAlai, begins the initial descent of the first leg of its mission as it transits west across the West Florida Shelf. Credit: Sean Beckwith 

By: Chad Lembke, Research Faculty, Project Engineer for USF CMS

On April 21, 2023 the USF glider team picked up one glider and deployed another as part of repeated across-shelf glider operations in the eastern Gulf of Mexico off of Tampa Bay. This work supports the ongoing mission of the Center for Red Tide Tracking and Forecasting

This year our glider fleet is set to break yet another record for the number of days in the water, and we have fingers crossed this holds true. We expect to have one or more gliders in the water every single month of the year.

For this latest deployment, Glider “JaiAlai” will transit from its deployment at the 25m isobath out to the shelf break and back over the next four to five weeks to collected CTD, fluorescence, dissolved oxygen and nitrate readings.  While in route it will target waypoints of sampling stations of an upcoming cruise by Kristen Buck’s Lab, providing water column variables in near real time for comparison.  This allows the cruise team to “see” the water column before the cruise, and potentially enhance the shipboard data results by connecting them to what the glider observes in real time.  

The data collected by JaiAlai are just one component of the Center team’s work that includes the Ocean Circulation Lab, Optical Oceanography Lab, and Microbiology and Genomics Lab.  The Fish and Wildlife Research Institute leads and funds the effort, with glider funding help from GCOOS and SECOORA.  Real time updates of the glider progress and data can be viewed at the GCOOS AUV Network website.

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