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2010 Deep Sea Coral Cruise - east coast
Mission info 2007 Nancy Foster Cruise
 

Mission Log: Apr. 13, 2010

Why use an ROV to study coral?
By John Butler
Southwest Fisheries Science Center

A deep-sea octopus shelters near a colony of tufted coral and anemones.
A deep-sea octopus shelters near a colony of tufted coral and anemones. Click here or on the image for a larger version.

Deep water corals are far too deep to investigate with SCUBA, and submersibles are expensive and require special support vessels. The ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) provides a relatively inexpensive means to study deep water fauna, and it can stay submerged much longer than a manned submersible or diver. When coupled with the Dynamic Position System (DPS) on the Pisces (nicknamed Betty), bottom observations can be easily made and documented photographically. The DPS can move the ship in any direction for any distance at slow speed, or maintain a constant position. A quantitative photo mosaic is easy to accomplish using the combination of DPS and the ROV equipped with automatic timed exposure digital camera.

Misty grouper, a rare deepwater grouper found more often in the Bahamas and Caribbean Sea.
Misty grouper, a rare deepwater grouper found more often in the Bahamas and Caribbean Sea. Click here or on the image for a larger version.

The manipulator arm on the ROV allows selective sampling of specimens of choice for further study and confirmation of identification.

We also use the ROV to survey broad areas with precise navigation. After the location of coral mounds are mapped with the ROV and sonar, the ship can return with bottom grabs to collect specimens and coral rubble for age and growth studies. After voucher samples have been collected, non-invasive surveys of species composition and sea floor type can be made with the ROV.

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