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Tools & Technology


What’s it like in a submersible?

It is hard to describe what it’s like to physically travel down to the twilight zone. Both Heidi Sosik, senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Ocean Twilight Zone (OTZ) project lead and Joel Llopiz, Associate Scientist, and OTZ lead of the life histories and behavior theme went down in a submersible for the first time to experience the twilight zone. They were able to able to observe beautiful jellies and small fishes like bristlemouths, hatchetfish, and lanternfish, all in their natural habitat.

This was part of a mission in spring of 2019 where several members of the OTZ Project team conducted an expedition aboard OceanX’s research vessel, the M/V Alucia, out of the Bahamas. The main goal of the expedition was to examine how the OTZ project site off the coast of New England differs from this distant –yet connected– region of the twilight zone. The team worked closely with OceanX to share their journey through video diaries and photographs of the extraordinary creatures brought on board throughout the cruise. The Ocean Twilight Zone is supported the Audacious Project, a collaborative endeavor, housed at TED, to surface and fund ideas with the potential to create change at thrilling scale.

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What is the story behind Mesobot?

Mesobot is designed to let scientists observe the twilight zone by autonomously tracking individual animals for hours or even days without disturbing the environment or disrupting their behavior, making it possible to follow individual animals as they take part in the great migration from the twilight zone to the surface and back each day. Mesobot is also equipped with samplers that will allow it to capture traces of environmental DNA (eDNA) from seawater while on a dive. The engineering team held their first successful at-sea test in June of 2019.

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Conducting airlift and dive operations

May 2019 — Captain Peter Collins explains a day of support operations conducted aboard the R/V Tioga at the Martha’s Vineyard Coastal Observatory (MVCO). Helicopter operations included the airlift installation of a new dive board platform and switchgear for the MVCO tower. Dive operations included node junction surveying and a scientific instrument recovery at the Tower.

Learn more about the MVCO here:
https://www.whoi.edu/mvco

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What do ocean airlift operations look like?

Watch how scientific instruments get airlifted and installed at the Martha’s Vineyard Coastal Observatory. The installation includes a new dive board platform and electrical switchgear.

Learn more about the MVCO here:
https://www.whoi.edu/mvco

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Researching the Twilight Zone

Meet WHOI technician, Helena McMonagle, and learn how research is conducted in the twilight zone using MOCNESS. This was part of a mission in spring of 2019 where several members of the OTZ Project team conducted an expedition aboard OceanX’s research vessel, the M/V Alucia, out of the Bahamas. The main goal of the expedition was to examine how the OTZ project site off the coast of New England differs from this distant –yet connected– region of the twilight zone. The team worked closely with OceanX to share their journey through video diaries and photographs of the extraordinary creatures brought on board throughout the cruise. The Ocean Twilight Zone is supported by the Audacious Project, a collaborative endeavor, housed at TED, to surface and fund ideas with the potential to create change at thrilling scale.

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Underwater robots swarm the ocean

Robot Swarm

Researchers test a new, acoustic-based navigation system to solve a problem that oceanographers have grappled with for years—getting multiple underwater robots to monitor the ocean cooperatively in swarm-like fashion.

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Mesobot: Following life in the Twilight Zone

Mesobot is a brand new underwater vehicle designed to reveal what lives in the ocean’s twilight zone. Mesobot can follow animals as they move through the darkness and as they migrate from the depths to the surface and back. The twilight zone is vast and remote, but is threatened by unregulated fishing and climate change. We need Mesobot’s insights to understand and protect the twilight zone before humans change it forever.

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MTR100: #5 Dr. Mark Abbott, WHOI

Marine Technology News

The editors of Marine Technology Reporter are pleased to share that Dr. Mark Abbott, President & Director, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), is #5 in the 14th Annual “MTR100”.

360˚ Video Time-lapse: Cruise aboard the Tioga

Ride on the bow of the Research Vessel Tioga as it departs the dock at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution at 0530 on May 10, 2019 and heads down to the south side of Martha’s Vineyard to support helicopter and dive operations at the Marthas Vineyard Coastal Observatory.

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360˚ Video: Deploying a CTD Rosette

Deploying a CTD Rosette

The crew of RV Thomas G. Thompson deploys a conductivity, temperature, depth (CTD) sensor with a rosette of Niskin sampling bottles in July 2019 on the Shelfbreak Productivity Interdisciplinary Research Operation at the Pioneer Array (SPIROPA) expedition.

A CTD is the primary tool oceanographer use to determine the essential physical properties of seawater. It gives scientists a precise and comprehensive charting of the distribution and variation of water temperature, salinity, and density that helps to understand how the oceans affect life.

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360 Video: Departing Woods Hole

Departing Woods Hole

RV Thomas G. Thompson departs the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution dock in July 2019 on the Shelfbreak Productivity Interdisciplinary Research Operation at the Pioneer Array (SPIROPA) expedition.

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360 Video: Deploying the VPR from the A-frame

Deploying the VPR from the A-frame

The crew of RV Thomas G. Thompson deploys a video plankton recorder (VPR) in July 2019 on the Shelfbreak Productivity Interdisciplinary Research Operation at the Pioneer Array (SPIROPA) expedition.

The VPR is an underwater video microscope system that that takes images of plankton and particulate matter as small as 50 microns and up to a few centimeters in size. The instrument is used to help scientists quickly measure the distributional patterns of plankton without destroying their delicate forms, as can happen when using nets and bottles.

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360˚ Video: Deploying MOCNESS

Deploying MOCNESS

The crew of RV Thomas G. Thompson deploys a Multiple Opening/Closing Net and Environmental Sensing System (MOCNESS) in July 2019 on the Shelfbreak Productivity Interdisciplinary Research Operation at the Pioneer Array (SPIROPA) expedition.

As MOCNESS tows behind a research ship, each net can be opened and shut independently so that it samples a discrete patch of water. The researcher chooses exactly when by using the environmental sensing system. This is an array of sensors mounted on the instrument frame that relays water conditions up to the ship in real time. The data also help researchers match what they find in their sample to the physical properties of the seawater.

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360˚ Video: Deploying the VPR from Deck

Deploying the VPR from Deck

The crew of RV Thomas G. Thompson deploys a video plankton recorder (VPR) in July 2019 on the Shelfbreak Productivity Interdisciplinary Research Operation at the Pioneer Array (SPIROPA) expedition.

The VPR is an underwater video microscope system that that takes images of plankton and particulate matter as small as 50 microns and up to a few centimeters in size. The instrument is used to help scientists quickly measure the distributional patterns of plankton without destroying their delicate forms, as can happen when using nets and bottles.

Read More

360˚ Video: Deploying REMUS

Deploying REMUS

The crew of RV Thomas G. Thompson deploys a REMUS autonomous underwater vehicle in July 2019 on the Shelfbreak Productivity Interdisciplinary Research Operation at the Pioneer Array (SPIROPA) expedition.

Remote Environmental Monitoring UnitS, or REMUS, are low-cost robotic vehicles designed by WHOI’s Oceanographic Systems Lab to operate with a simple laptop computer. Initially conceived for coastal monitoring, these torpedo-shaped vehicles are now used as platforms for a wide variety of instruments at a range of ocean depths. REMUS are particularly well suited for surveying and mapping, travelling methodically over an area like a lawnmower to sample key ocean characteristics.

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360˚ Video: Recovering a CTD Rosette

Recovering a CTD Rosette

The crew of RV Thomas G. Thompson recovers a conductivity, temperature, depth (CTD) sensor with a rosette of Niskin sampling bottles in July 2019 on the Shelfbreak Productivity Interdisciplinary Research Operation at the Pioneer Array (SPIROPA) expedition.

A CTD is the primary tool oceanographer use to determine the essential physical properties of seawater. It gives scientists a precise and comprehensive charting of the distribution and variation of water temperature, salinity, and density that helps to understand how the oceans affect life.

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Engineering the future

GOES Program

Created by WHOI engineer Anna Michel, the GOES (Girls in Ocean Engineering and Science) Institute, hosts girls going into sixth grade for a week of engineering activities

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Infrared Cameras Could Help Ships Avoid Whales

WCAI radio

An interview with Dan Zitterbart, a WHOI scientist who is testing a new thermal infrared imaging system to detection whales in busy waterways to prevent ship strikes.