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Peter Gaube

Senior 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

Mesoscale eddies influence the movements of mature female white sharks in the Gulf Stream and Sargasso Sea

Gaube, P., C.D. Braun, G.L. Lawson, D.J. McGillicuddy Jr., A. Della Penna, G.B. Skomal, C. Fischer, and S.R. Thorrold, "Mesoscale eddies influence the movements of mature female white sharks in the Gulf Stream and Sargasso Sea," Sci. Rep., 8, 7363, doi:10.1038/s41598-018-25565-8, 2018.

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9 May 2018

Satellite-tracking of mature white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) has revealed open-ocean movements spanning months and covering tens of thousands of kilometers. But how are the energetic demands of these active apex predators met as they leave coastal areas with relatively high prey abundance to swim across the open ocean through waters often characterized as biological deserts? Here we investigate mesoscale oceanographic variability encountered by two white sharks as they moved through the Gulf Stream region and Sargasso Sea in the North Atlantic Ocean. In the vicinity of the Gulf Stream, the two mature female white sharks exhibited extensive use of the interiors of clockwise-rotating anticyclonic eddies, characterized by positive (warm) temperature anomalies. One tagged white shark was also equipped with an archival tag that indicated this individual made frequent dives to nearly 1,000 m in anticyclones, where it was presumably foraging on mesopelagic prey. We propose that warm temperature anomalies in anticyclones make prey more accessible and energetically profitable to adult white sharks in the Gulf Stream region by reducing the physiological costs of thermoregulation in cold water. The results presented here provide valuable new insight into open ocean habitat use by mature, female white sharks that may be applicable to other large pelagic predators.

Subregional characterization of mesoscale eddies across the Brazil–Malvinas Confluence

Mason, E., A. Pascual, P. Gaube, S. Ruiz, J.L. Pelegrí, and A. Delepoulle, "Subregional characterization of mesoscale eddies across the Brazil–Malvinas Confluence," J. Geophys. Res., 122, 3329-3357, doi:10.1002/2016JC012611, 2017.

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1 Apr 2017

Horizontal and vertical motions associated with coherent mesoscale structures, including eddies and meanders, are responsible for significant global transports of many properties, including heat and mass. Mesoscale vertical fluxes also influence upper ocean biological productivity by mediating the supply of nutrients into the euphotic layer, with potential impacts on the global carbon cycle. The Brazil-Malvinas Confluence (BMC) is a western boundary current region in the South Atlantic with intense mesoscale activity. This region has an active role in the genesis and transformation of water masses and thus is a critical component of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation. The collision between the Malvinas and Brazil Currents over the Patagonian shelf/slope creates an energetic front that translates offshore to form a vigorous eddy field. Recent improvements in gridded altimetric sea level anomaly fields allow us to track BMC mesoscale eddies with high spatial and temporal resolutions using an automated eddy tracker. We characterize the eddies across fourteen 5° × 5° subregions. Eddy-centric composites of tracers and geostrophic currents diagnosed from a global reanalysis of surface and in situ data reveal substantial subregional heterogeneity. The in situ data are also used to compute the evolving quasi-geostrophic vertical velocity (QG-ω) associated with each instantaneous eddy instance. The QG-ω eddy composites have the expected dipole patterns of alternating upwelling/downwelling, however, the magnitude and sign of azimuthally averaged vertical velocity varies among subregions. Maximum eddy values are found near fronts and sharp topographic gradients. In comparison with regional eddy composites, subregional composites provide refined information about mesoscale eddy heterogeneity.

The influence of Gulf Stream eddies and meanders on near-surface chlorophyll

Gaube, P., and D.J. McGillicuddy Jr., "The influence of Gulf Stream eddies and meanders on near-surface chlorophyll," Deep Sea Res. 1, 122, 1-16, doi:10.1016/j.dsr.2017.02.006, 2017.

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1 Apr 2017


• Eddies and meanders of the Gulf Stream entrain and trap water with distinct near-surface chlorophyll concentration.

• Following formation, chlorophyll in anticyclonic eddies is observed to increase.

• The positive chlorophyll trend in anticyclonic eddies is reproduced in a simulation including eddy-induced Ekman pumping.

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In The News

Why great white sharks hang out in warm whirlpools

National Geographic, Douglas Main

New research on famous white sharks Mary Lee and Lydia shows the giant fish spend a surprising amount of time in warm oceanic eddies.

19 Jun 2018

Great white sharks dive deep into warm-water whirlpools in the Atlantic

UW News, Hannah Hickey

A study from the University of Washington and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution looked at the movements of adult female white sharks in the Gulf Stream and North Atlantic Ocean. Results showed, surprisingly, that they prefer warm-water eddies — the clockwise-spinning whirlpools in the ocean — and tend to spend more time deep inside these slowly spinning features.

18 Jun 2018

Sea turtles don’t just go with the flow

Physics Today, Rachel Berkowitz

Satellite data reveal that the marine reptiles change their behavior to interact with currents.

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22 Mar 2017

Using satellite transmitters attached to juvenile turtles, Peter Gaube at the University of Washington and colleagues have found that loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) modify their behavior to position themselves inside eddies. The data showed that turtles avoided the peripheries of anticyclonic eddies.Gaube proposes that the turtles were seeking the gelatinous gastropods that favor the anomalously low chlorophyll concentrations and warm water in the interior.

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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