Bio-physical interactions at
mesoscale in the ocean

Our project aims at joining the technological innovations, research experience, and teaching curricula of the two institutions in order to tackle questions at the interface between Physics and Biology in the ocean. Currently, the two disciplines are mostly studied and taught separately while many outstanding questions in oceanography lie at the boundary between them. RSMAS and OOV are historic oceanography schools, which both paid particular attention to physical-biological interactions. This partnership will leverage this history and experience.

The technological cooperation will allow to build an array of instruments capable of sampling the distribution and behavior of open-sea organisms at the same scale as the physical properties of the surrounding water. This will allow to actually see physical-biological interactions at play for the first time. In addition, many of these instruments rely on digital imaging and the partnership will define a common format and process to publish these images in internationally accessible databases.

This technological progress will materialize through two joint research projects. First, an oceanic front will be sampled at high frequency to understand how the two water masses that meet at the front affect the distribution and biology of free-floating organisms. Second, the orientation of fish larvae in response to underwater cues (sound in particular) will be studied. This will allow understanding how the physical environment, and sounds of human origin, affects the future distribution of coastal fishes.

Finally, the graduate teaching curricula of RSMAS and OOV will be joined, hence allowing students to benefit from classes tackling physical-biological interactions in both institutions. This will result in student exchange, for classes or internships, and, ultimately, in a joint, dual curriculum. Indeed, the boundary between disciplines can only be truly erased in future generations if students are trained in both physics and biology from the onset.