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Peter Gaube

Principal Oceanographer






B.A. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, 2003

M.S. Physical Oceanography, Nova Southeastern University, 2007

Ph.D. Oceanography, Oregon State University, 2012

Peter Gaube's Website



2000-present and while at APL-UW

Spatiotemporal segregation of ocean sunfish species (Molidae) in the eastern North Pacific

Arostegui, M.C., C.D. Braun, P.A. Woodworth-Jefcoats, D.R. Kobayashi, and P. Gaube, "Spatiotemporal segregation of ocean sunfish species (Molidae) in the eastern North Pacific," Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser., 654, 109-125, doi:10.3354/meps13514, 2020.

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12 Nov 2020

Ocean sunfishes or molas (Molidae) are difficult to study as a result of their extensive movements and low densities in remote waters. In particular, little is known of the environmental niche separation and differences in the reproductive or movement ecology of molids in sympatry. We investigated spatiotemporal dynamics in the distribution of the common mola Mola mola, sharptail mola Masturus lanceolatus, and slender mola Ranzania laevis in the eastern North Pacific. We used observer data from a commercial fishery consisting of 85000+ longline sets spanning 24 yr, >50° in longitude, and >45° in latitude. Satellite altimetry analysis, species distribution modeling, and multivariate ordination revealed thermal niche separation, spatiotemporal segregation, and distinct community associations of the 3 molid species. Our quantitative findings suggest that the common mola is a more temperate species, while slender and sharptail mola are more (sub)tropical species, and that slender (and possibly also sharptail) mola undergo spawning migrations to the region around the Hawaiian Islands. In addition, we identified potential effects of fishing gear type on molid catch probability, an increasing trend in catch probability of a vulnerable species perhaps related to a shift in the distribution of fishing effort, and the possible presence in the fishery of a fourth molid species being misidentified as a congener, all of which are important conservation considerations for these enigmatic fishes.

Mesoscale eddies structure mesopelagic communities

Della Penna, A., and P. Gaube, "Mesoscale eddies structure mesopelagic communities," Front. Mar. Sci., 7, 454, doi:10.3389/fmars.2020.00454, 2020.

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8 Jul 2020

Mesoscale eddies play a key role in structuring open ocean ecosystems, affecting the entire trophic web from primary producers to large pelagic predators including sharks and elephant seals. Recent advances in the tracking of pelagic predators have revealed that these animals forage in the mesopelagic and the depth and duration of their foraging dives are affected by the presence of eddies. The ways in which eddies impact the distribution of mesopelagic micronekton, however, remain largely unknown. During a multi-seasonal experiment we used a shipboard scientific echosounder transmitting at 38 kHz to observe the distribution of acoustic backscattering in the energetic mesoscale eddy field of the northwestern Atlantic. Observations were collected at 24 stations with 6 located in anticyclonic and 7 in cyclonic eddies. The sampled anticyclonic eddies are characterized by intense acoustic backscattering in the mesopelagic and changes in the intensity of acoustic backscattering layers match gradients of surface properties. Furthermore, mesopelagic daytime backscattering is positively correlated with sea level anomaly. These results suggest that anticyclonic eddies in the northwestern Atlantic impact the distribution of mesopelagic micronekton and may have the potential to locally enhance or structure spatially mesopelagic communities.

Shifts in phytoplankton community structure across an anticyclonic eddy revealed from high spectral resolution lidar scattering measurements

Schulien, J.A., A. Della Penna, P. Gaube, A.P. Chase, N. Haëntjens, J.R. Graff, J.W. Hair, C.A. Hostetler, A.J. Scarino, E.S. Boss, L. Karp-Boss, and M.J. Behrenfeld, "Shifts in phytoplankton community structure across an anticyclonic eddy revealed from high spectral resolution lidar scattering measurements," Front. Mar. Sci., 7, doi:10.3389/fmars.2020.00493, 2020.

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30 Jun 2020

Changes in airborne high spectral resolution lidar (HSRL) measurements of scattering, depolarization, and attenuation coincided with a shift in phytoplankton community composition across an anticyclonic eddy in the North Atlantic. We normalized the total depolarization ratio (δ) by the particulate backscattering coefficient (bbp) to account for the covariance in δ and bbp that has been attributed to multiple scattering. A 15% increase in δ/bbp inside the eddy coincided with decreased phytoplankton biomass and a shift to smaller and more elongated phytoplankton cells. Taxonomic changes (reduced dinoflagellate relative abundance inside the eddy) were also observed. The δ signal is thus potentially most sensitive to changes in phytoplankton shape because neither the observed change in the particle size distribution (PSD) nor refractive index (assuming average refractive indices) are consistent with previous theoretical modeling results. We additionally calculated chlorophyll-a (Chl) concentrations from measurements of the diffuse light attenuation coefficient (Kd) and divided by bbp to evaluate another optical metric of phytoplankton community composition (Chl:bbp), which decreased by more than a factor of two inside the eddy. This case study demonstrates that the HSRL is able to detect changes in phytoplankton community composition. High spectral resolution lidar measurements reveal complex structures in both the vertical and horizontal distribution of phytoplankton in the mixed layer providing a valuable new tool to support other remote sensing techniques for studying mixed layer dynamics. Our results identify fronts at the periphery of mesoscale eddies as locations of abrupt changes in near-surface optical properties.

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In The News

Billfish expedition to the Red Sea

Sport Fishing, Martin Arostegui

This was not a vacation trip but rather a research fishing expedition with the express goal of outfitting swordfish and other large pelagic fish in the Red Sea with satellite tags to study their movement behavior.

4 Feb 2020

South Florida fishermen part of ambitious and revolutionary tagging program for swordfish

Miami Herald, Steve Waters

South Florida fishermen are helping fisheries scientists to better understand swordfish as well as uncharted ocean depths through an ambitious, revolutionary satellite tagging program. The tags will enable University of Washington scientists Peter Gaube and Camrin Braun to learn new information about swordfish, which spend most of their lives in what the researchers call the ocean twilight zone.

27 Dec 2019

Swordfish as oceanographers? Satellite tags allow research of ocean's 'twilight zone' off Florida

UW News, Hannah Hickey

Researchers from the University of Washington are using high-tech tags to record the movements of swordfish – big, deep-water, migratory, open-ocean fish that are poorly studied – and get a window into the ocean depths they inhabit.

4 Nov 2019

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Continuous Underway Multi-sensor Profiler

Record of Invention Number: 48207

Peter Gaube, Kyla Drushka


15 Nov 2017

Acoustics Air-Sea Interaction & Remote Sensing Center for Environmental & Information Systems Center for Industrial & Medical Ultrasound Electronic & Photonic Systems Ocean Engineering Ocean Physics Polar Science Center