In an effort to counter unauthorised fishing and trawling, a 322,000m2 Pacific Ocean marine reserve has employed the use of drones to patrol the area and feed data back to a satellite watch room.
The reserve, which was established in 2015 around Pitcairn Island and is nearly three and a half times bigger than the landmass of the UK, is home to more than 1,200 species of fish, marine mammals and birds - some of which are unique to the region. It also supports the world's deepest and most well developed coral reef.
The drone – named Wave Glider and made by US firm Liquid Robotics - will be directed by staff at the satellite watch room which is monitoring fishing vessels. The craft is equipped with a camera that can take snaps of fishing vessels that are in restricted areas, and satellite technology that can pinpoint their location.
Wave Glider is a two-part craft made up of an instrument bearing boat that floats on the ocean surface that is tethered to a submersible. The craft uses the differential motion between the sea surface and the region the submersible traverses to propel itself.
Since their inception Liquid Robotics’ fleet of Wave Glider drones have continued operating through 17 hurricanes/typhoons, and have achieved a Guinness World Record for the longest journey by an autonomous, unmanned surface vehicle on the planet.
Over the past decade, government and commercial organisations have turned to unmanned ocean robots to lower the cost, risks and improve ocean access, allowing better measurement, monitoring and understanding of maritime environments. In the defence, oil and gas, and scientific markets, Wave Gliders have been deployed to extend the range and effectiveness of traditional observation and surveillance systems. Missions have been conducted in all five major oceans collecting and communicating environmental, security, weather and seismic data.