An international network of scientists, including Chilean researcher Dr Erasmo Macaya Horta, will take part in developing information for the conservation of biodiversity in the marine ecosystems of the Western Hemisphere.
Andrea Navarro, from the Antarctic Peninsula. “Pole to Pole Marine Biodiversity Observation Network of the Americas“ is the name of the international network comprising more than 30 marine sciences researchers whose purpose is to conduct a survey of information throughout the Western Hemisphere for the conservation of marine ecosystem biodiversity.
Dr. Erasmo Macaya Horta, scientist at the Center for the Dynamic Investigation of Marine Ecosystems of High Latitudes (IDEAL) (Austral University of Chile -UACh) and faculty member at the University of Concepción (UdeC), is one of the few Chileans taking part in this network. Working as part of the Antarctic Scientific Expedition (ASE) 55, Dr. Macaya installed eight biomimetic sensors that will measure the temperature of the Southern Ocean.
The sensor equipment installed by the ASE 55 teams was located in both shaded and sunny locations along the rocky coast of Fildes Bay, at King George Island, near the Antarctic Peninsula. These will remain for a year, as they gather data every hour. The associated technology includes NFC (Near Field Communication) devices, which means that just a cell phone is needed to extract the data, which can later be sent via whatsapp or email.
“Normally, to download this type of data, scientists must extract the sensor and connect it to a computer with a dedicated reader. This new technology is much friendlier, since it facilitates access to information and prevents loss of the recorded data. All that is needed is the application on a cell phone, which is then brought close to the sensor location,” explains Dr. Macaya.
Although the sensor equipment, which is inserted in real mollusk shells or artifacts simulating the shape of some limpets, has already been installed on the coasts of the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Argentina, Colombia, Canada and the Virgin Islands, this is the first time they are being installed in Antarctica.
The information provided by the sensors, which were positioned using GPS for subsequent recovery, will be compared with observations from a sampling of terrain in the rocky intertidal sector of Fildes Bay, where there is an abundance primarily of brown seaweed and a high biodiversity of small crustaceans, such as “sea fleas.”
In February 2020, Dr. Macaya will return to Fildes Bay to extract the sensors and begin working on the Southern Ocean data in conjunction with the recorded data from other countries. “The idea is that the information collected will help nations to employ suitable guidelines in terms of biodiversity conservation,” concluded the researcher.