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Bioinspiration 2018 Expedition – Log 5

Bioinspiration 2018 Expedition – Log 5

On this expedition we are using two different remotely operated vehicles (ROV). The main one, ROV Doc Ricketts, is always deployed from R/V Western Flyer, while the smaller one, MiniROV is what we call a “flyaway” vehicle because it can be launched from any research vessel anywhere in the world. We can ship the vehicle and its control van (a large shipping container with an ROV control room inside) to any port and load it on another research vessel. However, since the R/V Western Flyer lives in the harbor right across the street from MBARI, the crew and pilots just had to forklift it over to the dock and set it in place on the ship’s back deck.

The reason we are using both vehicles on this expedition is that the ROV Doc Ricketts is optimized for deepwater work, allowing researchers to observe and sample animals that live in the deep midwater. It can descend all the way to 4,000 meters, however, it is not as maneuverable in shallow water (above 200 meters). That’s where the MiniROV comes in handy! The MiniROV can dive as deep as 1,500 meters, but most importantly for this expedition, it can easily fly between 50 and 200 meters, the depth range of one of our target species—the giant larvacean Bathochordaeus mcnutti.

On this expedition, the MiniROV team used a new “smart clump”. The smart clump is a weighted instrument attached to the umbilical cable of the vehicle and floats about 50 meters away. The smart clump has multiple cameras and sensors which will make ROV operations safer and more efficient, by giving the pilots better visualization of tether management. This was the first time they used the Smart Clump, and using it involved one more step in the deployment process. First, the ROV pilots and crew deployed the MiniROV, then they attached the clump to the crane and deployed it. We can happily report that the smart clump and MiniROV successfully worked in the shallow midwater over the last few days, allowing us to sample animals a little too deep for scuba diving and a little too shallow for our deep-diving ROV Doc Ricketts.

About Bioinspiration 2018 Expedition

June 21-26, 2018 – This research cruise is the first expedition of the Bioinspiration Lab on the R/V Western Flyer to study midwater organisms for bioinspired engineering design.