R/V Western Flyer was designed and constructed for MBARI to serve as the support vessel for ROV Doc Ricketts. Her missions include the Monterey Bay as well as extended cruises to Hawaii, Gulf of California and the Pacific Northwest.
ROV Doc Ricketts is capable of diving to 4,000 meters (about 2.5 miles). The Western Flyer is the support vessel for Doc Ricketts and was designed with a center well whose floor can be opened to allow Doc Ricketts to be launched from within the ship into the water below.
Sediment traps collect the samples needed for the lab's measure of particulate organic carbon. The sample is split into portions for microscopy, pigment analysis and carbon analysis.
A push core looks like a clear plastic tube with a rubber handle on one end. Just as its name implies, the push core is pushed down into loose sediment using the ROV's manipulator arm.
The Benthic Rover autonomously transits the seafloor taking measurements of sediment community oxygen consumption, which the lab uses to calculate organic carbon demand.
Oxygen consumption (a measure of biological activity) of the organisms living in the sediment is measured using a free vehicle grab respirometer.
Sediment traps are used to collect sinking organic matter as it descends toward the seafloor. Most sediment traps are moored in one location, but Lagrangian sediment traps drift with the currents.