Ocean data assimilation is increasingly recognized as crucial for the accuracy of real-time ocean prediction systems and historical re-analyses. The current status of ocean data assimilation in support of the operational demands of analysis, forecasting and reanalysis is reviewed, focusing on methods currently adopted in operational and real-time prediction systems. Significant challenges associated with the most commonly employed approaches are identified and discussed. Overarching issues faced by ocean data assimilation are also addressed, and important future directions in response to scientific advances, evolving and forthcoming ocean observing systems and the needs of stakeholders and downstream applications are discussed.
Tools and Data
Relational values (RV) are values that arise from a relationship with nature, encompassing a sense of place, feelings of well-being (mental and physical health), and cultural, community, or personal identities. With sharks, such values are formed by diverse groups that interact with these animals and their ecosystems, either physically or virtually, whether a scientist, student, fisher, or media-viewer. Further, these user groups may overlap or come into conflict over management plans, media portrayals of sharks, and their conservation status. Although scientists have not explicitly aimed to assess RV through sharks, qualitative studies of shark fishers, tourism operators, tourists, and the public, as well as historical and archeological accounts, can be interpreted through an analytical lens to reveal values which can also be defined as relational. To this end, this review considers studies capturing RV alongside those of economic value (increasingly, the value of a shark is appraised by their financial value in shark tourism) and the social and cultural roles of sharks. Based on these studies and the broader RV literature, we then outline a workflow for how RV can be leveraged in scientific inquiry, equitable resource management, and education. We conclude that via collaborative assessments of RV, with implicit inclusion of multiple values of sharks and by acknowledging their importance to all parties involved in user conflicts, the RV framework can lead to a constructive dialog on polarizing conservation and management issues. By illuminating shared values, and/or revealing dichotomies of values ascribed toward certain areas or objects, this framework can provide inroads to mediation, seeking to conserve or even restore relationships with nature, and their derived values as much as is possible. This approach can yield unexpected knowledge, solutions, and compromises in an increasingly complex conservation landscape.
Getting an overall view of primary data available from existing Earth Observation Systems and networks databases for the Mediterranean Sea, the main objective of this paper is to identify temporal and geographic data gaps and to elaborate a new method for providing a prioritisation of missing data useful for end-users that have to pinpoint strategies and models to fill these gaps. Existing data sources have been identified from the analysis of the main projects and information systems available. A new method to perform the data gap analysis has been developed and applied to the whole Mediterranean basin as case study area, identifying and prioritise geographical and temporal data gaps considering and integrating the biological, geological, chemical and physical branches of the total environment. The obtained results highlighted both the main geographical data gaps subdividing the whole Mediterranean Sea into 23 sub-basins and the temporal data gaps considering data gathered since 1990. Particular attention has been directed to the suitability of data in terms of completeness, accessibility and aggregation, since data and information are often aggregated and could not be used for research needs. The elaborated inventory of existing data source includes a database of 477 data rows originated from 122 data platforms analysed, able to specify for each dataset the related data typologies and its accessibility. The obtained results indicate that 76% of the data comes from ongoing platforms, while the remaining 25% are related to platforms with non-operational monitoring systems. Since the large amount of analysed records includes data gathered in inhomogeneous ways, the prioritisation values obtained for each identified data gap simplify the data comparison and analysis. Lastly, the data gaps inventory contains geographic and temporal information for any missing parameter at the whole basin scale, as well as the spatial resolution of each available data.
Oil spills are serious environmental issues that potentially can cause adverse effects on marine ecosystems. In some marine areas, like the Baltic Sea, there is a large number of wrecks from the first half of the 20th century, and recent monitoring and field work have revealed release of oil from some of these wrecks. The risk posed by a wreck is governed by its condition, hazardous substances contained in the wreck and the state of the surrounding environment. Therefore, there is a need for a common standard method for estimating the risks associated with different wrecks. In this work a state-of-the-art model is presented for spatial and stochastic risk assessment of oil spills from wrecks, enabling a structured approach to include the complex factors affecting the risk values. A unique feature of this model is its specific focus on uncertainty, facilitating probabilistic calculation of the total risk as the integral expected sum of many possible consequences. A case study is performed in Kattegat at the entrance region to the Baltic Sea to map the risk from a wreck near Sweden. The developed model can be used for oil spill risk assessment in the marine environment all over the world.
Skin marks occur frequently in many cetacean species across the globe revealing a broad spectrum of causes, including social interactions, infectious diseases and injuries produced by anthropogenic factors. The current study used photo-id data from 2005–2014 to estimate the skin mark pattern on resident bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) from the Aeolian Archipelago (Italy). Thirteen skin mark types were identified and their origin, prevalence and permanence time were examined. The pattern of skin marks was assessed for the abundance, richness, distribution and severity in six body regions and compared among age classes, sex and degree of dolphins’ interaction with trammel nets (DIN). Our results showed higher prevalence, abundance, richness and distribution of skin marks in adults than in the younger age classes, with the exception of black marks and white ring lesions. The prevalence and abundance of skin marks were higher in males than females, with the exception of scratches and white patches. Moreover, gunshot wounds, mutilations and irregular dorsal fin edges were found only on adult males. Since males showed higher DIN than females and, in dolphins with higher DIN, skin marks were more abundant and frequently distributed in different body regions, the skin mark pattern in regard to DIN seems to be sex-related. The more severe marks were observed on adults, males and dolphins with higher DIN, namely skin disorder, tooth rake marks, small shallow indentations, deep indentations and mutilations. On the contrary, the severity of scratches, white patches and dark ring lesions was higher in females than males, but not significantly related to DIN and age of the individuals. Our results showed that photo-id data provide an efficient and cost-effective approach to document the occurrence of skin marks in free-ranging bottlenose dolphin populations, a critical step toward understanding the cause and supporting the conservation strategies.
Computer vision and image processing approaches for automatic underwater fish detection are gaining attention of marine scientists as quicker and low-cost methods for estimating fish biomass and assemblage in oceans and fresh water bodies. However, the main challenge that is encountered in unconstrained underwater imagery is poor luminosity, turbidity, background confusion and foreground camouflage that make conventional approaches compromise on their performance due to missed detections or high false alarm rates. Gaussian Mixture Modelling is a powerful approach to segment foreground fish from the background objects through learning the background pixel distribution. In this paper, we present an algorithm based on Gaussian Mixture Models together with Pixel-Wise Posteriors for fish detection in complex background scenarios. We report the results of our method on the benchmark Complex Background dataset that is extracted from Fish4Knowledge repository. Our proposed method yields an F-score of 84.3%, which is the highest score reported so far on the aforementioned dataset for detecting fish in an unconstrained environment.
Reaching protected area (PA) coverage goals is challenged by a lack of sufficient financial resources. This funding gap is particularly pervasive for marine protected areas (MPAs). It has been suggested that marine conservationists examine examples from terrestrial protected areas (TPAs) for potential solutions to better fund MPAs. However, the funding needs for MPAs and TPAs have not been directly compared, and there is risk of management failures if any such differences are not properly considered when designing MPA financial strategies. We perform an in-depth literature review to investigate differences in distribution of costs incurred by MPAs and TPAs across three primary categories; establishment, operational, and opportunity costs. We use our findings to conduct a snapshot quantitative comparison, which we complement with theoretical support to provide preliminary insight into differences between MPA and TPA costs, and how these may influence financial strategies most appropriate for each type of PA. Our research suggests that TPA costs, and thereby funding requirements, are greater for the time period leading up to and including the implementation phase, whereas MPAs have higher financial requirements for meeting long-term annual operational costs. This may be primarily due to the prevalence of private property rights for terrestrial regions, which are less frequently in place for ocean areas, as well as logistical requirements for enforcement and monitoring in a marine environment. To cement these suggestions in greater analytical certainty, we call for more thorough and standardized PA cost reporting at all stages, especially for MPAs and PAs in developing countries. The quantity and quality of such data presently limits research in PA sustainable finance, and will need to be remedied to advance the field in future years.
An online atlas of the Coral Triangle region of the Indo-Pacific biogeographic realm was developed. This online atlas consists of the three interlinked parts: (1) Biodiversity Features; (2) Areas of Importance for Biodiversity Conservation; (3) recommended priorities for Marine Protected Area (MPA) Network Expansion (http://www.marine.auckland.ac.nz/CTMAPS). The first map, Biodiversity Features, provides comprehensive data on the region's marine protected areas and biodiversity features, threats, and environmental characteristics. The second provides spatial information on areas of high biodiversity conservation values, while the third map shows priority areas for expanding the current Coral Triangle MPA network. This atlas provides the most comprehensive biodiversity datasets that have been assembled for the region. The datasets were retrieved and generated systematically from various open-access sources. To engage a wider audience and to raise participation in biodiversity conservation, the maps were designed as an interactive and online atlas. This atlas presents representative information to promote a better understanding of the key marine and coastal biodiversity characteristics of the region and enables the application of marine biodiversity informatics to support marine ecosystem-based management in the Coral Triangle region.
The Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) is a United States National Science Foundation-funded major research facility that provides continuous observations of the ocean and seafloor from coastal and open ocean locations in the Atlantic and Pacific. Multiple cycles of OOI infrastructure deployment, recovery, and refurbishment have occurred since operations began in 2014. This heterogeneous ocean observing infrastructure with multidisciplinary sampling in important but challenging locations has provided new scientific and engineering insights into the operation of a sustained ocean observing system. This paper summarizes the challenges, successes, and failures experienced to date and shares recommendations on best practices that will be of benefit to the global ocean observing community.