Friday, May 13, 2016

Just a pet

Every lab has at least one pet project - a simple, easily-accessible local habitat where they can sample. In fact, I'm pretty sure the best-understood marine systems in the world are those immediately surrounding marine labs. Where there's smoke, there's fire. Where there are scientists, there will be data. My institute is no different.

The GoPro captured this awesome shot of Craig and me
recovering the camera sled in 2014.
Today, I had the chance to visit one of OIMB's "pet" habitats, a rocky reef just off the southern Oregon coast. The reef covers a pretty large area of the seafloor, stretching between Cape Arago and Bandon. There's a central boulder field surrounded by smaller patches of cobble and gravel. The reef is inhabited by all sorts of fascinating invertebrates - soft corals, anemones, encrusting and upright sponges, bryozoans, and hydroids. Sea cucumbers, crabs, and fish also frequent the reef. There are even basket stars, Gorgonocephalus spp., stretching their arms high into the water.

My lab has been messing around with a benthic camera sled on the reef for the past couple years, just going out to collect footage whenever the weather cooperates. The videos offer nice snapshots of what lives on the reef, and we've actually started to notice some interesting patterns.

Today was one of those rare days that the waves were flat calm, so I and two other OIMBers convinced the boat captain to take us out. We ran video transects along the reef at 8 different depths from 30 ~ 80 m. The sled has a GoPro camera in a waterproof, pressure-resistant housing, so it's very simple to use. The only drawback is that you can't watch the videos as they're being recorded, so you never know until later what you actually captured.

Still, it was a great day out on the water. I can't wait to see what the videos hold!

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