Camera on the ocean floor:
MapleLine Magazine: November 3, 2010
by Mary P. Brooke
SOOKE, BC. The world’s first regional-scale underwater ocean observatory that plugs directly into the Internet is making waves right here on Vancouver Island at the Bamfield Marine Science Centre at Barkley Sound (this side of Tofino). The Neptune Canada project, named respectfully though somewhat whimsically after the Roman mythological god of the sea (aka Poseidon), started in 2006 and launched its submersible equipment in 2008 following the launch of 800 km of seafloor power and optical cable in 2007. Then in December 2009 the Ocean 2.0 Data Explorer online tools were installed, allowing any web-surfer to also surf the seafloor, doing a bit of underwater voyeurism as ocean scientists run deep-water experiments from labs and universities around the world.
Not since having his name affixed to the eighth planet of our solar system has Neptune had it so good for fame right here on earth – well, beneath the sea, his home.
The Neptune Canada project is coordinated in large part through the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of Victoria and is part of a larger network of organizations including the Canadian Scientific Submersible Facility (CSSF) that operates the Remotely Operated Platform for Ocean Science (ROPOS). ROPOS is a world-class submersible with a crew that is instrumental in all of Neptune Canada’s mapping, installation and maintenance activities at sea.
To watch live video from the seafloor (generally available only 11 am to 12 noon daily to minimize impacts on the sensitive seafloor ecosystems), it is first necessary to register with Oceans 2.0. No affiliation or credentials are re-quired, but visitors must sign up for a free account at www.neptunecanada.ca then, under Quick Links/Science Toolbox, select Seafloor Webcams. Once logged in, click on the Cameras link at the top of the page to arrive at Camera Control and the viewing window. Or listen to hydrophone audio from a depth of 981m on the Data Collaboration subpage – other than what sounds like flapping noises and the occasional faraway boat horn or thunder-style rumble, it’s pretty quiet down there!
Even easier is to select the YouTube videos section and find yourself
underwater at the click of a mouse. A video posted September 28 shows
the installation of a new suite of scientific instruments installed to
study the Grotto Hydrothermal Vent in the Endeavour Ridge Marine
Protected Area at 2,197m below sea level.
Oceans cover almost three-quarters of Earth’s surface. They feed us, carry our ships and shape our weather. The real-time interactive design of Neptune Canada gives scientists the ability to respond to rare oceanic events (including earthquakes and tsunamis), observe ocean changes over decades, and adjust experiments and data samplings over time – all via the Internet. Interdisciplinary studies of geological, physical, chemical and biological systems are all possible for scientists worldwide. MM
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