Thursday, June 22, 2017
 

Eye-in-the-Sea


 

OER supported the development and application of the deep-sea observatory, Eye-in-the-Sea, an autonomous, battery-powered data logging, video capture and illumination system that can be placed on the seafloor and left for 24 to 48 hours to observe the animal life in the dark depths with as little disturbance as possible. The system uses bioluminescence to its advantage. It can detect animals nearby when they give off bioluminescent light, trigger a video camera to record the light being produced, then turn on a red light out of the animals' normal vision range. The result: the collection of illuminated footage, without alerting the subject or scaring it away. The system can also be programmed to film surrounding areas at scheduled intervals. In the past, camera systems used on the sea floor have relied on bright lights, which frighten those creatures accustomed to the darkness of the deep.

The Operation Deep-Scope expeditions looked into the deep ocean with new eyes and revealed new organisms, behaviors, visual adaptations, and fluorescent compounds. Notable results from the missions include the discovery of a fluorescent shark, that methane hydrates fluoresce, the first in situ footage of a large, undescribed species of deep-sea squid, the discovery of a bioluminescent anemone, the discovery that animals that appear to be transparent in the open ocean are clearly visible under polarized light.

 

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