I’m Susan von Thun and I work in MBARI’s video lab. The video lab is the group that takes all of the video produced from the many MBARI video platforms and archives it in a centralized video library. We watch the video, making observations about the ocean life, habitat, equipment and anything of interest that we see. Over three decades of video observations has yielded a database filled with incomparable deep-sea knowledge. As a result, we’ve created MBARI’s Deep-Sea Guide (http://dsg.mbari.org/dsg/home), which we use to help our scientists identify what they find, but we’ve also made this public, so you too, can peruse this valuable resource to learn more about the life we see on ROV dives.
Having this role at MBARI means that I’ve watched and analyzed thousands of hours of video from our remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). I’ve also spent countless hours in the control room spotting tiny, transparent animals that most people don’t notice until we stop and zoom in with the camera. My expertise is midwater animals—the ones that swim in the waters well below the surface, but never touch the seafloor. Kakani and her group have come up with a list of animals that they would like to further study with all of the imaging tools they’ve developed and I’m here to help them find those animals!
In addition to spending lots of time in ROV Doc Ricketts’ control room, it has been fun to work with Dale Graves and the ROV pilots in the Mini ROV’s control van on this expedition. The Mini ROV is a small, portable system that can be shipped with its control van anywhere in the world. One of MBARI’s missions—to bring the lab into the ocean—can be seen in action everywhere I look on this expedition. We’ve got experts in biology, physics, mathematics, and engineering collaborating on challenging problems to learn more about how life on our ocean planet thrives. They are bringing tools used on land into the harsh environment of the deep sea—a formidable challenge. The high-tech tools, when integrated with underwater vehicles like ROVs are allowing us to study these animals in their habitats and get insights we never could gain in the lab.
I’m also MBARI’s social media specialist, so be sure to check out our Twitter and Instagram accounts (@MBARI_news), which we’ve been updating while at sea. This science team is especially adept at using Twitter to communicate their work in a an informative, yet entertaining way!