RObust BIOdiversity lander (ROBIO): The landers carry the camera (A) as well as other equipment which measure how fast the current is moving, and in which direction, and it also measures how salty the sea is (salinity) (B). The lander also carries a flash (C) and a battery (D) for the camera, and 2 releases which drop the weight when they receive the signal from the ship (E). The bait is under the camera on top of the weight with a ruler (F).
Nicola uses a digital camera that can work down to depths of 6000 m - the length of 50 football pitches! The camera is baited with mackerel, a particularly smelly fish, and the smell of the bait attracts scavenging fish - fish that will eat anything! The cameras takes pictures once every minute, and the pictures allow Nicola to get lots of information including which fish come to the bait, how long they stay, how many there are, and their size.The cameras are mounted onto special metal frames called “landers”. The landers have floats but are weighted with scrap metal making them sink to the seafloor. Once the camera has finished taking pictures we send a sound signal from the ship which makes the lander drop the weight. The lander then floats to the surface where we can get it back onto the ship and downlaod the pictures.
Once Nicola gets back to lab she can go through all the pictures one by one identifying the fish, measuring and counting them. She can also look at how the different species of fish interact and how they are distributed over the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
The deep-sea environment makes up a huge part of our oceans, so it is vital that we understand and protect it. Taking pictures of deep-sea life all over the world in our seas and oceans helps us to understand the depths of our most valuable living resource, giving us an extremely important portfolio of which animals live where and why.
An example of one of the images captured by the camera on the ROBIO lander, 2355 m, Mid-Atlantic Ridge, North Atlantic ocean. You can see the measuring cross and bait are in the middle of the image. The black fish are called Blue Hake, and the grey fish are called Armed Grenadiers or “rattails”!
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A picture is worth more than thousand words...
Hard working students
Landing on the ridge
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