Loughborough University
Sujit_journal.pone.0160404.pdf (4.56 MB)

Integrated monitoring of Mola mola behaviour in space and time

Download (4.56 MB)
journal contribution
posted on 2017-11-14, 12:02 authored by Lara L. Sousa, Francisco Lopez-Castejon, Javier Gilabert, Paulo Relvas, Ana Couto, Nuno Queiroz, Renato Caldas, Paulo Sousa Dias, Hugo Dias, Margarida Faria, Filipe Ferreira, Antonio Sergio Ferreira, Joao Fortuna, Ricardo Joel Gomes, Bruno Loureiro, Ricardo Martins, Luis Madureira, Jorge Neiva, Marina Oliveira, Joao Pereira, Jose Pinto, Frederic Py, Hugo Queiros, Daniel Silva, Sujit Baliyarasimhuni, Artur Zolich, Tor Arne Johansen, Joao Borges de Sousa, Kanna Rajan
Over the last decade, ocean sunfish movements have been monitored worldwide using various satellite tracking methods. This study reports the near-real time monitoring of finescale (< 10 m) behaviour of sunfish. The study was conducted in southern Portugal in May 2014 and involved satellite tags and underwater and surface robotic vehicles to measure both the movements and the contextual environment of the fish. A total of four individuals were tracked using custom-made GPS satellite tags providing geolocation estimates of fine-scale resolution. These accurate positions further informed sunfish areas of restricted search (ARS), which were directly correlated to steep thermal frontal zones. Simultaneously, and for two different occasions, an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) videorecorded the path of the tracked fish and detected buoyant particles in the water column. Importantly, the densities of these particles were also directly correlated to steep thermal gradients. Thus, both sunfish foraging behaviour (ARS) and possibly prey densities, were found to be influenced by analogous environmental conditions. In addition, the dynamic structure of the water transited by the tracked individuals was described by a Lagrangian modelling approach. The model informed the distribution of zooplankton in the region, both horizontally and in the water column, and the resultant simulated densities positively correlated with sunfish ARS behaviour estimator (rs = 0.184, p<0.001). The model also revealed that tracked fish opportunistically displace with respect to subsurface current flow. Thus, we show how physical forcing and current structure provide a rationale for a predator’s finescale behaviour observed over a two weeks in May 2014.


The work was funded in part by the US Office of Naval Research Global (ONRG) funded under PERSISTS Grant #N62909-14-1-N109. KR and FP were funded by ONR Grant # N00014-14-1-0536 for work on the manuscript. Additional funding from FLAD (the Luso American Development Foundation) is also acknowledged. Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT), Portugal, through a PhD grant to LLS (SFRH/BD/68717/2010); an Investigator Fellowship to NQ (IF/01611/2013) and the SHORE project (Shoreface morphodynamics: an integrated approach) under the contract PTDC/MAREST/ 3485/2012, for the ADCP data. NQ and JS were also funded through the project ‘Marinfo’ co-financed by North Portugal Regional Operational Programme (N2020), under the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) via the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). AZ and TAJ were funded by the Research Council of Norway through the Centres of Excellence funding scheme, grant number 223254—AMOS.



  • Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering


  • Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering

Published in







e0160404 - e0160404


SOUSA, L.L. ...et al., 2016. Integrated Monitoring of Mola mola Behaviour in Space and Time. PLOS ONE, 11(8): e0160404.


© the Authors. Published by Public Library of Science (PloS)


  • VoR (Version of Record)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/ by/4.0/

Acceptance date


Publication date



This is an Open Access Article. It is published by PloS under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported Licence (CC BY). Full details of this licence are available at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/




  • en


Engelmann, J

Usage metrics

    Loughborough Publications



    Ref. manager