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ROV enhancements

ROV marker tool
Project Manager: Chris Lovera
Lead Scientist: Jim Barry
Lead Engineer: Mark Brown

This proposal requests support to develop a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) tool that embeds small markers in rock faces, thereby permanently marking locations for long-term studies. The tool may be an adaptation of a "nail gun" technology for underwater use.

Permanent markers are required for various studies that require high-resolution (e.g. cm) accuracy in relocating organisms or other objects. We have previously deployed transect lines over the bottom to mark locations and used flags on each line to "map" individual organisms for long-term studies. Repeated observations of individuals are required to determine rates of recruitment, survival, and longevity of animals, thereby providing an understanding of the population dynamics of organisms. Preliminary results (based on the permanent transect lines) indicate that annual rates of population mortality for the mushroom anemone (Anthomastus ritteri), and the sessile sea cucumber Psolus squamatus are approximately 2.5% and 0.5% near 950 m depth in Monterey Canyon. Unfortunately, most transect lines have been moved or lost due to tangling in fishing lines, etc., with a loss of positioning and early termination of observations. Markers (e.g. bolts or nails) placed in the rock face to delineate study plots will last for decades and greatly reduce the potential for lost study plots.

An ROV marker tool should be capable of embedding up to 100 markers per dive and should be configurable for either vehicle. These markers will be placed at the corners of small (~1-2 m2) plots in which all sessile megafauna will be mapped (this is a continuation of ongoing studies in benthic biology and ecology) annually.