In April 2013, the AUV (“Bluefin”) successfully ran a test science mission in Saanich Inlet. Operated by engineers from the UVic’s Ocean Technology Lab, led by Dr. Colin Bradley, the AUV enhances capabilities of VENUS – the coastal ocean observatory of Ocean Networks Canada.
For test deployment in Saanich Inlet the AUV was equipped with key oceanographic sensors, oxygen and temperature, and a multibeam sonar to scan the seafloor. The test mission focused on mapping the Inlet structure to assess both the early spring conditions and whether any mid or deep water intrusions have occurred.
According to Dr. Jody Klymak, an oceanographer from the UVic’s School of Earth and Ocean Science, who helped to organize the science mission, the main objective of the mission was to fully assess capabilities of the mini-sub. “It is an advanced multipurpose tool, and we would like to see it support ongoing research programs at SEOS”. The AUV is capable of powered flight in waters down to 200m depth and can run for up to 8 hours gathering valuable data from the geographically dispersed areas.
Preliminary assessment of the test-mission data from several weeks ago clearly shows that the deep water renewal event in Saanich Inlet has not occurred yet. The event, a long studied natural phenomena, is a harbinger of the spring-coming in Saanich Inlet, when oxygen-rich waters and nutrients finally reach the seasonally hypoxic fjord.