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Ocean Gliders

An ocean glider is an autonomous underwater vehicle used to collect ocean data. Scientists are now experimenting with using gliders to locate populations of spawning fish. The glider shown in this video is outfitted with an acoustic receiver to “listen” for vocalizations—grunting sounds—made by some fish as they mass together to spawn in the U.S. Caribbean. Learn more.


While we may know quite a bit about our coastal ocean, there  is so much we don’t know about what lies beneath the waves beyond our shores.

Because our ocean is so big, we need all the help we can get. That’s why ocean gliders are such an exciting 21st century invention.

Gliders are self-propelled robots that travel through the ocean without help from humans.  All humans have to do is program them with directions about where to go and what to do … and then set them free.

A glider may be equipped with many different sensors. It can be outfitted to  monitor temperature, salinity, currents, and other ocean conditions. Or, in the case of the little glider here, it can seek out groups of fish by listening for sounds they make when spawning.

The glider records what its sensors detect to a memory card.  When the mission is complete, it surfaces and relays its position to a satellite. It then waits to be picked up. Mission complete.

With ocean gliders, scientists are seeing the ocean as never before. Who knows what these underwater robots will discover next?