Deep-sea observatory

In February 2011, an MBARI research team set up a long-term observing system 5,400 meters down on the abyssal seafloor about 500 miles west of Bermuda. This observatory, commissioned by the Marine Science and Technology Foundation, consists of a time-lapse camera system connected to a string of sediment traps—large funnels that collect particles of debris that rain down from sunlit surface waters. The time-lapse camera snaps pictures of a four-by-five-meter patch of ocean floor every hour for up to six months. Data can then be collected from the observatory by recovering it from the seafloor. To recover the observatory, an acoustic command from the ship releases the anchor from the deep-sea observatory. The entire observatory then floats to the surface in approximately 2.5 hours for recovery.