Harvesting of Calanus finmarchicus requires deep knowledge of ecosystems, practical skillsets, appropriate technology and cost-efficiency. All of these pillars are developed through persistent and dedicated R&D. Of particular interest is development of technology which will facilitate efficient harvesting in oceanic waters. This is a region further away from the coast, where concentration of Calanus is lower.
Calanus AS has initiated two projects targeting these problem complexes: OASIS2 and DRONE.
Calanus finmarchicus is approximately 2-3mm long, drifts passively with currents and is one of the most abundant animal species in the ocean.
Harvesting is usually done with a fine-meshed plankton trawl, with a design inspired by a commercial fish trawl. The fundamental assumption is that individual zooplankton organisms located ahead of the opening of the trawl is transported into the trawl, and further assembled in the back end, before the trawl is being retrieved and emptied.
This system requires a certain concentration of zooplankton to be commercially viable.
A novel, second-generation zooplankton trawl will be developed in the OASIS2 project, addressing two challenges.
By releasing compressed air ahead and below the opening of the trawl opening, artificial upwelling will aggregate zooplankton in the surface. Scooping the surface concentrations into the trawl bag, and continuously pumping of zooplankton from the rear end of the trawl to the vessel will be made possible. This novel system is expected to increase harvesting efficiencies enabling the vessels to operate in oceanic regions, where the average concentration of zooplankton is lower than closer to the coast. Full scale testing is planned in 2020.
The objectives of DRONE are to reduce the search time during harvesting of Calanus finmarchicusand to act as a decision support system during operations.
This is achieved by processing the optical signature from the ocean surface and correlate this with the abundance of Calanus finmarchicus. A sensor-package, UAV on-board processing and algorithms, communication-links and visualization software at the vessel bridge will be developed in the project. The fundamental correlation has already been established through a prior patent developed at Calanus AS. However, DRONE will seek to operationalize R&D results into industrial applications. Field testing has already been commenced and will continue throughout 2020. The project is a collaboration between Calanus AS, NORCE and UiT – The Arctic University of Norway. More information can be found here (in Norwegian).
NORCE Senior Scientist Dr. Stian Solbø conducting field testing of a Calanus drone