Submarines and the Sea: Google Ocean Camp 2015

Latest update July 13, 2015 Started on July 13, 2015
On July 13, the first week of Google Ocean Camp will kick off with a one-hour live stream with National Geographic Explorers Erika Bergman and Sylvia Earle as we go on a dive in the Atlantic Ocean. The event will be staged from inside Baseline Explorer's Submarine 'Nemo' where Erika Bergman and Sylvia Earle will discuss marine biology, technology and then pilot an OpenROV pre-positioned several miles offshore and piloted through a wireless ethernet bridge.

July 13, 2015
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Chief OpenROV and IT technician Dominik walks us through the magical ethernet bridge that Camp Google will tap into for tomorrow's live streaming event. After running a few systems tests, we launched the ROV for a dive that was beamed back--and driven--from land!

After spending the last couple days prepping and launching these little robots for multiple daily dives, I'm definitely learning how challenging ocean conditions can be. From flooding a battery tube to getting entangled in sargassum, each dive holds a new challenge that I've overcome and added to my knowledge base--thanks in huge part to Dominik and Erika's patience and commitment to share knowledge and experience.

Watch the submarine and OpenROV extraordinaire event here Monday at 12 PT:

Great scott! Erika explains the flux capacitor that will allow us to dive deep through space and time for Camp Google Ocean.

Thanks to our partners at Project Baseline, our trip back to the sea is especially comfortable with their fast boats, panoramic submarines and delicious meals. Plus, their coral reef surveys are helping to build a ter-reef-ic knowledge base of this critical global ecosystem.

Tune in Monday to watch a live broadcast featuring underwater exploration with OpenROVs:

We're in Fort Lauderdale! Yesterday we met the Camp Google Ocean team and spent the day prepping and hacking robots, coordinating boat and sub logistics...and testing the ethernet bridge! Erika gives us a rundown of this impressive set-up that will let us beam the underwater exploration of our OpenROVs back to shore. Today we're heading out along the coast to scout out dive sites in preparation for a live-streamed dive on Monday!

Yesterday we hacksawed, soldered, glued, heat gunned and epoxied the day away at OpenROV headquarters to get our robot fleet prepped to deploy this week in Fort Lauderdale. Here's the latest updates to veteran bot Puck, constructed by middle and high school girls at our January Girls Underwater Robot Camp in Berkeley!

Build it, and they will dive! This little robot's going on a grand adventure this week.

I'm building the OpenROV that will be flown by National Geographic explorers Sylvia Earle and Erika Bergman from INSIDE a submersible! Erika's just finishing up the Ethernet bridge that will allow this magic to happen.

It's the first time I've been able to build a robot from start to finish, and I'm having a blast. After having tinkered with OpenROVs for a few months, I have a whole new appreciation for how durable and efficient they are--so many little parts and pieces!

Finishing up the build today...any name suggestions for this newest addition to the Google Ocean Camp Team?


Her Deep-Nessy! Her Derpness! Sylvia Burly! Sylviahyeah! Sylvishnakman! Hope Spot!

Haha, look at all those options-thanks! Hope seemed to stick. Stay tuned as Hope floats (and dives) this week!

We're right smack in the middle of constructing our fleet of expedition tools! Here's Erika with a sneak peek of the ethernet bridge that will broadcast the OpenROV feed back to land while we're out to sea.

A fellow explorer has just pointed out that the coordinates are incorrect for our dive sites, which we would made our day just a little longer on our first test day. So thank you Gary!

Do you have any suggestions for other interesting targets as close into the mouth of the channel as possible?

The weather is my biggest concern, and understanding the difficulties of operating an OpenROV in currents, my concern in Ft. Lauderdale is that the coolest dive sites are all smack in the middle of the gulf stream:


Yup, don't trust the published coordinates if you have something better! Nice one @garyfabian!

The current...the current is going to be an issue, but because the ROV is still tethered, it can only go so far.

Hi Erika. Here's an image of most of the artificial reef sites north of the channel. I rendered this from airborne bathymetric LIDAR data. All coordinates are derived directly from the bathymetry. I hope this is helpful.

My link got above got clobbered and evidently I can't edit it. Ugh.

Dive Site
Potential dive sites have been identified, including nearby wrecks and reefs, which will offer a platform to teach about ocean wildlife and the threats to the local environment and ocean at large.

Although specific dive sites are listed below, the final site will be selected based on oceanic conditions (currents, wildlife abundance, etc.) during reconnaissance dives in the days before the livestream.

Hammerhead Reef (best option if currents are strong)
Beginning a half-mile south of Port Everglades, Hammerhead Reef stretches for 2.5 miles and ends at the Dania Pier. The base of the reef lies in 80 feet of water on the eastern side and in 60 feet on the western side. The reef rises to as high as 18 feet in some places. Hammerhead Reef contains many undercuts and ledges, which provide shelter for an abundance of tropical marine life. Southern Stingrays can often be found buried in the sand along the edges of the reef. This is a popular drift dive.
Wreck of the Jay Scutti
• Coordinates: 26.09506’ N & 80.04770’ W
• Depth: 70’ to the sand, 56’ to the deck
• Description: This 97' Holland Tug Boat was sunk on September 19, 1986. Originally named Airkok from Aruba. This wreck is completely covered in marine life and attracts a lot of different fish. The Jay Scutti forms the middle of the Fort Lauderdale “Wrek Trek”. The Ken Vitale is attached by a chain and lies 100 feet north, while other smaller wrecks are also in the vicinity.

Wreck of the Mercedes (Google Preferred Site)
• Coordinates: 26.09349’ N & 80.04512’ W
• Depth: 90’ to the sand, 60’ to the deck
• Description: One of the most famous wrecks in Ft Lauderdale. On Thanksgiving Day in 1984 during a storm, she lost her anchorage and ran aground against a seawall of an exclusive Palm Beach mansion. This 198-foot freighter was sunk in 1985 as part of the artificial reef system. When Hurricane Andrew came, it almost split in half. Most of the center section is destroyed, but the bow is still intact. It is just outside the third reef; which makes this dive one of the best in Fort Lauderdale. Large schools of baitfish are common, attracting both reef and pelagic predators.

Wreck of the Mercy Jesus
• Coordinates: 26.09635’ N & 80.04747’ W
• Depth: 70’ to the sand, 60’ to the deck
• Description: The Mercy Jesus is a 90’ Freighter that was sunk in 1998. This wreck is located north of the Ken Vitale Memorial about 120 feet away and northernmost wreck in the Fort Lauderdale wreck-trek. Even though it is a small wreck, it attracts a lot of marine life. A Nurse Shark has made this wreck its home.

Wreck of the Hog Heaven
• Coordinates: 26.0845’N & 80.04874’W
• Depth: 65’ to the sand, 55’ to the deck
• Description: 180-foot barge that lies upside down. This wreck was sunk as part of the Artificial Reef System and it flipped while it was making its way to the bottom of the ocean spreading the dredge pipes that it was carrying. Thirty feet north are the remains of the Pacific Reef Lighthouse. Just south you will find 1,200 feet of dredge pipe and concrete bridge beams. This in one of the best dives in Fort Lauderdale because of the abundant marine life that is attracted to the diverse artificial habitat.


In the spirit of a good friend of mine, I have outlined the basic components of our setup using ms paint. It just works.


Love this! Paint gets the job done :)

We will have event headquarters (HQ) set up at Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center (NSU), and the submarine will be a dock on NSU property (see image below). The team running the livestream (Pixel) will be based at HQ, connected to the sub via Ethernet cable. A separate boat will be positioned over the dive site, acting as the base for the ROV. The ROV will be tethered to the vessel. The vessel will be outfitted with an omnidirectional antenna to send the signal/image from the ROV back to the sector antenna at HQ.

Expedition Background

Camp Google is a multi-week, multi-themed summer program of activities inviting kids to find for answers to their questions through exploration and discovery. Each theme/week will be sparked by a big question to stoke kids’ curiosities and encourage them to dive deep into learning. Smaller activities throughout the week will lead up to one epic project that invites kids to explore and discover the answer.

The theme of the first week of Camp Google will be the Ocean, partnering with National Geographic. The week with kick off with a one-hour livestream with National Geographic and Google as they go on an ocean dive in the Atlantic. Participating kids will explore the underwater environment, interacting with Explorer-in-Residence Sylvia Earle, and Young Explorer Erika Bergman.


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