Media Advisory: Congressman Upton, Scientists Retrieve Underwater Robot Studying Lake Michigan

Release Date:

The USGS and Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute deployed a long-range autonomous underwater vehicle, named Tethys, in Lake Michigan on August 1. The deployment will last approximately 25 days. Tethys is continuously measuring amounts of algae and fish food called zooplankton across vast distances to help scientists better understand the base of the changing Lake Michigan food web. 

Tethys 2
Tethys, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute's  long-range AUV, at sea in Monterey Bay. (Todd Walsh, MBARI)

Reporters are invited to join Congressman Fred Upton and scientists onboard a U.S. Geological Survey vessel on Tuesday, August 9, in Holland, Michigan, for the offshore retrieval of a state-of-the-art scientific instrument following the device’s first week at sea.

The USGS and Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute deployed a long-range autonomous underwater vehicle, named Tethys, in Lake Michigan on August 1. The deployment will last approximately 25 days. Tethys is continuously measuring amounts of algae and fish food called zooplankton across vast distances to help scientists better understand the base of the changing Lake Michigan food web. This information will help determine the lake’s ability to support an open-water fishery.

At the August 9 event, after nine days traveling through southern Lake Michigan and diving repeatedly from nine feet to 150 feet, the 250-pound Tethys will be retrieved for a data download and battery recharge before being redeployed in Pentwater, Michigan. The research team and a small number of guests will board a 25-foot USGS research vessel and travel approximately one mile into Lake Michigan to retrieve the device. An accompanying vessel will be available for reporters joining the offshore retrieval for optimal viewing.

 

WHAT:  Holland-area reporters are invited to take part in the retrieval of Tethys following its first nine days at sea. The retrieval will be highly visual. Interviews with scientists and views of the instrument will also be available onshore once Tethys is retrieved and participants return to the harbor.

 

WHO:  U.S. Congressman Fred Upton

            Scientists from the USGS and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

 

WHERE: Yacht Basin Marina 

              1866 Ottawa Beach Road, Holland, Michigan (map)

 

WHEN: Tuesday, August 9

             9:30 a.m. – gather at marina for a short introduction to the project and depart for offshore retrieval

            Around 10:30 a.m. – return to marina with Tethys for onshore interviews and photographs of Tethys

 

Tethys 3
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute researchers with three long-range autonomous underwater vehicles on the Research Vessel Paragon. (Todd Walsh, MBARI)

Scientists will use the data gathered by Tethys to map algae and zooplankton abundances, which can help estimate the amount of predator fish that Lake Michigan can support. Accurate estimates of algae and zooplankton have been difficult to accomplish at a whole-lake scale with conventional technologies. The Tethys will provide unique coverage of all parts of the lake over a short time.

Tethys will not interfere with recreationalists or fishing boats while on the lake and will be virtually invisible to the general public.

For more information on USGS science in the Great Lakes, please visit the USGS Great Lakes Science Center website.