Three Saildrones have arrived at Unimak Pass in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, on their way to conduct a two month long acoustic survey of Pacific Pollock, and are expected to reach their first survey station about the second week of July.
NOAA Fisheries officials noted on Wednesday, July 1, that the ocean drones left Alameda, California in May, having sailed nearly 2,700 miles at a walking pace of about 2.5 miles or two knots an hour over a distance about equal to that from Seattle to Miami.
After navigating through the pass, the drones are to enter the Bering Sea, to begin the survey.
Several key standard manned-vessel surveys were cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NOAA officials said.
The data these three drones collect will help to fill in the gap for fisheries stock assessment scientists, who monitor changes in Pollock populations to advise fisheries management.
The sonar measurements made by these ocean drones will provide valuable insights on Pollock abundance and distribution in 2020.