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Scientists travel to Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary to facilitate research

ALPENA, MI. – The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is felicitating an exciting project. After years of work, scientists are able to deploy their technology out into the sanctuary.

“We are here as a collaborative project with Michigan tech, Michigan state university, and Louisiana state university.” said Katie Skinner, principal investigator.  Their collaborations include the use of use autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVS) and remotely operated vehicles (ROVS) to explore.
Years of work has led up to this step in the project. The scientists from Louisiana and Michigan have been working together remotely.

Co-principal Investigator, Corina Barbalata, said she is excited to finally see the project in full swing. “We are here to do some field work with some automated vehicles to study shipwrecks in the sanctuary. It has been a learning process. This is our first field work and the first time we are working the robots from LSU.”

Their explorations will generate large datasets to be used for training and validating machine learning models for shipwreck detection.
Resource Protection Coordinator, Stephanie Gandulla, said this level of research is opening doors for the sanctuary. “Part of our mission is to facilitate cutting edge research in the great lakes. What better place to do it than a marine protected area where we can support with dive and vessel support? It is exciting to bring this caliber of scientists to the sanctuary.”