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Peter Gaube

Senior 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



PACE: Identifying Phytoplankton Communities from Space

APL-UW oceanographers Ali Chase and Peter Gaube traveled to Cape Canaveral to watch the launch of PACE — the Plankton Aerosol Cloud and Ocean Ecosystem mission. This NASA satellite is observing the Earth's oceans and atmosphere every day globally.

11 Apr 2024

Tracking Swordfish for Ocean Research

Scientists from the UW and WHOI are teaming with swordfish experts and Wildlife Computers to catch, tag, and track the location and diving depth of swordfish. These apex predators are an ideal oceanographic platform to study the ocean twilight zone, home to the largest biomass of fish on the planet.

4 Nov 2019

White Sharks as Oceanographic Research Platforms

Shark swimming paths and feeding behaviors are giving Peter Gaube and his colleagues some new insights to the annual phytoplankton bloom cycle in the North Atlantic. They are at sea during the month of May on the NAAMES project — the North Atlantic Aerosol and Marine Ecosystem Study. The sharks, tagged with satellite tracking sensors, swim and dive deeply in ocean eddies, preferring those that are warmer and have lower primary production. Gaube's expertise is oceanic mesoscale eddies and meanders, the spinning masses of water 10–100 km across that make up the ocean's weather and impact the ecosystem. A goal of NAAMES is to characterize the phytoplankton, zooplankton, and fish inside and outside mesoscale eddies to probe mechanistic physical–biological interactions.

3 May 2016


2000-present and while at APL-UW

Fishery-independent and -dependent movement data aid in defining the stock structure of a data-deficient billfish

Arostegui, M.C., P. Gaube, M. Bowman, K. Nakamaru, and C.D. Braun, "Fishery-independent and -dependent movement data aid in defining the stock structure of a data-deficient billfish," Fish. Res., 271, doi:10.1016/j.fishres.2023.106923, 2024.

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1 Mar 2024

The shortbill spearfish (Tetrapturus angustirostris) is a data-deficient billfish frequently encountered near the Main Hawaiian Islands where it is taken as non-target bycatch in commercial fisheries. The lack of information on the species' movement and stock structure is a primary management concern given uncertainty in its population dynamics and the lack of a formal stock assessment. Here, we combine fishery-independent satellite telemetry with fishery-dependent conventional tagging to describe the movement ecology of shortbill spearfish in the central North Pacific and contextualize it with respect to stock structure and the management considerations implicit with that structure. We show that shortbill spearfish are highly migratory like other billfishes and large pelagics, exhibiting multiple scales of movement with general fidelity to the region of the Hawaiian Islands and surrounding high seas but no discernible seasonality to their movements. The species' displacements from the island group into areas beyond national jurisdiction result in exposure to multiple distinct commercial fishing fleets, suggesting the need for multi-national cooperation in quantifying harvest. By comparing the limited sources of information on shortbill spearfish with the far more expansive knowledge base of other highly migratory fishes, we suggest a first-order division of stocks between the North and South Pacific. Continued interdisciplinary efforts are needed to confirm and further understand the proposed stock structure.

Phytoplankton composition from sPACE: Requirements, opportunities, and challenges

Cetinic, I., and 28 others including A.P. Chase and P. Gaube, "Phytoplankton composition from sPACE: Requirements, opportunities, and challenges," Remote Sens. Environ., 302, doi:10.1016/j.rse.2023.113964, 2024.

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1 Mar 2024

Ocean color satellites have provided a synoptic view of global phytoplankton for over 25 years through near surface measurements of the concentration of chlorophyll a. While remote sensing of ocean color has revolutionized our understanding of phytoplankton and their role in the oceanic and freshwater ecosystems, it is important to consider both total phytoplankton biomass and changes in phytoplankton community composition in order to fully understand the dynamics of the aquatic ecosystems. With the upcoming launch of NASA's Plankton, Aerosol, Clouds, ocean Ecosystem (PACE) mission, we will be entering into a new era of global hyperspectral data, and with it, increased capabilities to monitor phytoplankton diversity from space. In this paper, we analyze the needs of the user community, review existing approaches for detecting phytoplankton community composition in situ and from space, and highlight the benefits that the PACE mission will bring. Using this three-pronged approach, we highlight the challenges and gaps to be addressed by the community going forward, while offering a vision of what global phytoplankton community composition will look like through the "eyes" of PACE.

Linking vertical movements of large pelagic predators with distribution patterns of biomass in the open ocean

Braun, C.D., and 22 others including P. Gaube, "Linking vertical movements of large pelagic predators with distribution patterns of biomass in the open ocean," Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 120, doi:10.1073/pnas.2306357120, 2023.

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21 Nov 2023

Many predator species make regular excursions from near-surface waters to the twilight (200 to 1,000 m) and midnight (1,000 to 3,000 m) zones of the deep pelagic ocean. While the occurrence of significant vertical movements into the deep ocean has evolved independently across taxonomic groups, the functional role(s) and ecological significance of these movements remain poorly understood. Here, we integrate results from satellite tagging efforts with model predictions of deep prey layers in the North Atlantic Ocean to determine whether prey distributions are correlated with vertical habitat use across 12 species of predators. Using 3D movement data for 344 individuals who traversed nearly 1.5 million km of pelagic ocean in >42,000 d, we found that nearly every tagged predator frequented the twilight zone and many made regular trips to the midnight zone. Using a predictive model, we found clear alignment of predator depth use with the expected location of deep pelagic prey for at least half of the predator species. We compared high-resolution predator data with shipboard acoustics and selected representative matches that highlight the opportunities and challenges in the analysis and synthesis of these data. While not all observed behavior was consistent with estimated prey availability at depth, our results suggest that deep pelagic biomass likely has high ecological value for a suite of commercially important predators in the open ocean. Careful consideration of the disruption to ecosystem services provided by pelagic food webs is needed before the potential costs and benefits of proceeding with extractive activities in the deep ocean can be evaluated.

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In The News

Great white sharks are hanging out in the twilight zone and scientists don't know why

Live Science, Carys Matthews

In a new study, data from 12 species of large predatory fish, including sharks, billfish and tunas showed they regularly spent time in the mesopelagic zone — also known as the twilight zone — which stretches between the depths of 200 to 1,000 m.

20 Nov 2023

Unveiling the mysteries: New insights on why marine predators dive into the dark, deep sea

SciTechDaily, WHOI

Data from over 300 tags on large marine predators, along with shipboard sonar, point to the ecological importance of the ocean’s twilight zone.

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12 Nov 2023

A new study demonstrates that large predatory fishes like sharks, tunas, and billfish make a surprising number of visits to the deep ocean—particularly the mesopelagic zone, which is found between 200 to 1,000 meters below the surface. This area, also called the ocean’s twilight zone, has been overlooked as critical habitat for large predator species, according to the study. The paper was published on November 6 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Where food is scare, ocean predators find snacks in swirling eddies

Popular Science, Laura Baisas

New research shows how billfishes, tunas, and sharks survive in ocean 'food deserts.'

8 Sep 2022

More News Items

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