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Mesophotic Coral Ecosystem Exploration

August 11 2014
We will use OpenROV to support the scientific exploration of mesophotic coral ecosystems- these important coral reef systems are to deep for traditional scuba diving and require advanced techniques for exploration. Mesophotic coral ecosystems are considered one of the next discovery frontiers, with new species being measured per hour of exploration. Global sustainability depends on coral reefs, which are in decline due to anthropogenic pressures. We must study these mesophotic reefs in order to properly inform conservation initiatives. We will use OpenROV to scope out the environments before we send divers down, and then we would have our topside support monitor our divers with the ROV! We plan to outfit the OpenROV with equipment that will be useful in characterizing these reefs and communicating with divers. We also plan to increase the depth limits of the current OpenROV platform.

August 11 2014


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Preparation Stage

Currently trying to figure out how to have the ROV receive the following information about the divers:

-Pulse Ox
-Gas Pressures
-PO2 of rebreather loop
-Decompression status and depth

Perhaps even receive and transmit voice communication transmitted from the diver to the ROV using a 32.768 Khz Upper Sideband receiver.

That's an interesting challenge - eager to see how you guys are thinking about the problem.

Expedition Background

In 2011, the California Academy of Sciences started an initiative to explore Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems (MCEs) as a critical science gap. It was concluded that a small interdisciplinary team would pilot an initiative to explore these critical ecosystems. The team has since completed multiple successful expeditions to mesophotic reefs. These expeditions have combined training, sample collections, live animal collections, photo and video documentation, as well as the prototyping of collection and diving equipment. Multiple new species of fishes and invertebrates have been discovered, plans for public aquaria exhibits focused on MCEs have been formulated, and digital assets are being utilized for scientific reference and public display. In only a few years of studying MCEs, it is apparent that MCEs are facing similar anthropomorphic pressures as shallow coral ecosystems. Threats to MCEs are apparent near coastal development with both garbage and sediment runoff spreading down to the deeper reefs. MCEs appear to be one of the next global frontiers for discovery. Given the relatively small amount of research being conducted on MCEs, collaboration between interdisciplinary scientists with experience working on MCEs may produce important results that inform resource managers and the subsequent conservation of MCEs.



I just mentioned your interest in diver/ROV communications in a related OpenROV forum posting.