Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 30 Issue 02

View Issue TOC
Volume 30, No. 2
Pages 128 - 131

Using Bio-Optics to Reveal Phytoplankton Physiology from a Wirewalker Autonomous Platform

Melissa M. Omand Ivona Cetinić Andrew J. Lucas
Article Abstract

Rapid, wave-powered profiling of bio-optical properties from an autonomous Wirewalker platform provides useful insights into phytoplankton physiology, including the patterns of diel growth, phytoplankton mortality, nonphotochemical quenching of chlorophyll a fluorescence, and natural (sun-induced) fluorescence of mixed communities. Methods are proposed to quantify each of these processes. Such autonomous measurements of phytoplankton physiological rates and responses open up new possibilities for studying phytoplankton in situ, over longer periods, and under a broader range of environmental conditions.


Omand, M.M., I. Cetinić, and A.J. Lucas. 2017. Using bio-optics to reveal phytoplankton physiology from a Wirewalker autonomous platform. Oceanography 30(2):128–131, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2017.233.


Barber, J. 1994. Molecular basis of the vulnerability of photosystem II to damage by light. Australian Journal of Plant Physiology 22:201–208, https://doi.org/10.1071/PP9950201.

Behrenfeld, M.J., T.K. Westberry, E.S. Boss, R.T. O’Malley, D.A. Siegel, J.D. Wiggert, B.A. Franz, C.R. McClain, G.C. Feldman, S.C. Doney, and others. 2009. Satellite-detected fluorescence reveals global physiology of ocean phytoplankton. Biogeosciences 6:779–795, https://doi.org/10.5194/bgd-5-4235-2008.

Cetiníc, I., M.J. Perry, N. Briggs, E. Kallin, E.A. D’Asaro, and C.M. Lee. 2012. Particulate organic carbon and inherent optical properties during the 2008 North Atlantic Bloom Experiment. Journal of Geophysical Research 117, C06028, https://doi.org/10.1029/2011JC007771.

Claustre, H., A. Morel, M. Babin, C. Cailliau, D. Marie, J. C. Marty, D. Tailliez, and D. Vaulot. 1999. Variability in particle attenuation and chlorophyll fluorescence in the tropical Pacific: Scales, patterns, and biogeochemical implications. Journal of Geophysical Research 104:3,401–3,422, https://doi.org/10.1029/98JC01334.

Dall’Olmo, G., E. Boss, M.J. Behrenfeld, T.K. Westberry, C. Courties, L. Prieur, M. Pujo-Pay, N. Hardman-Mountford, and T. Moutin. 2011. Inferring phytoplankton carbon and eco-physiological rates from diel cycles of spectral particulate beam-attenuation coefficient. Biogeosciences 8:3,423–3,439, https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-8-3423-2011.

Demmig-Adams, B., and K. Winter. 1988. Characterisation of three components of non-photochemical fluorescence quenching and their response to photoinhibition. Functional Plant Biology 15(2):163–177, https://doi.org/10.1071/PP9880163.

Kirk, J.T.O. 1994. Light and Photosynthesis in Aquatic Ecosystems. Cambridge University Press, 662 pp.

Kitchen, J.C., and H. Pak. 1987. Observations of natural fluorescence with an underwater radiometer. Journal of the Oceanographical Society of Japan 43:356–362, https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02109288.

Lotliker, A.A., M.M. Omand, A.J. Lucas, S.R. Laney, A. Mahadevan, and M. Ravichandran. 2016. Penetrative radiative flux in the Bay of Bengal. Oceanography 29(2):214–221, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2016.53.

Lucas, A.J., R. Pinkel, and M. Alford. 2017. Ocean wave energy for long endurance, broad bandwidth ocean monitoring Oceanography 30(2):126–127, https://doi.org/​10.5670/oceanog.2017.232.

Pinkel, R., M.A. Goldin, J.A. Smith, O.M. Sun, A.A. Aja, M.N. Bui, and T. Hughen. 2011. The Wirewalker: A vertically profiling instrument carrier powered by ocean waves. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology 28:426–435, https://doi.org/10.1175/2010JTECHO805.1.

Rainville, L., and R. Pinkel. 2001. The Wirewalker: An autonomous wave-powered vertical profiler. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology 18:1,048–1,051, https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0426(2001)018<1048:WAAWPV>2.0.CO;2.

Stramska, M., and T.D. Dickey. 1992. Variability of bio-optical properties of the upper ocean associated with diel cycles in phytoplankton population. Journal of Geophysical Research 97(C11):17,873–17,887, https://doi.org/10.1029/92JC01570.