Baiting deep-sea animals to submersibles, ROVs, and autonomous camera packages

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Emory Kristof
National Geographic Magazine

Friday, October 23, 1998
12:00 noon—Pacific Forum

The study and imaging of live deep-sea animals can be a time consuming, frustrating, and expensive endeavor. Fortunately many animals can be attracted to bait. Following in the footsteps of John Isaacs of Scripps, the National Geographic Society (NGS) has conducted a series of projects over the past 22 years to bait animals into still and video cameras mounted on submersibles, ROVS, and recently, computer-controlled digital camera packages (Rope-Cams). This talk will be a history of these efforts, the strategies employed, and the evolution of the equipment.

National Geographic has used the deep-sea animal images to illustrate natural history articles in its magazine articles and on television shows. Usually the projects have been teamed with biologists, and NGS grants have been awarded to further scientific research. The current study in Monterey Bay is being conducted using concepts in baiting originated by Richard Zimmer-Faust of UCLA and supported at MBARI by Mario Tamburri. Preliminary results of this experiment will be presented.

The worldwide pressure on fish stocks is now being extended into the deep sea. Initial forays have produced some booms with rapid busts. The orange roughy fishery in New Zealand and the California sable fishery are cautionary examples. If deep animals are to be utilized, then a lot more has to be learned about them if they are to be harvested in a sustainable way. Some of the techniques developed with National Geographic might be of use in this coming research.

Next: Does benthic-pelagic coupling control male-female couplings on the deep-sea bed?

Last updated: December 19, 2000