Most of the time living in a small town can be somewhat quiet. This weekend however was eventful as Tom and two other field specialists from Oceans Research decided to go and start getting some ROV piloting practice for our fish population project we hope to be starting soon. The goal is to see how an ROV compares to other methods of data collection for similar projects. The first step was getting good at piloting…
Author: Tomasz Pedlow (Field specialist, Oceans Research)
So on Saturday afternoon, Jesse, Mitch and I gathered up our equipment.
We headed down to a commercial slipway near the main harbor in Mossel Bay and got to diving. Now I figured, being so close to a heavily used slipway we wouldn’t see much. We’d genuinely planned it as a chance to get more piloting practice. Boy were we wrong! We found a small reef and schools of fish all around! Some members of the general public came by curious about what we were doing so we enjoyed a bit of impromptu science communication about the reefs in the area. The kids especially were really fascinated.
The above photo shows a screenshot of some of the fish we saw on the ROV the first time we piloted it. These are a whole school of Strepie (Sarpa salpa) that surrounded our ROV. For the full video check out Toms Personal blog (https://oceanmindeddotblog.wordpress.com) .
There were heaps of fish for us to see and it proved to be a really fun first dive. I’d done some practice dives back home in Sydney's harbor. but it was a sandy area with little to see. This dive really opened my eyes to what’s possible with this technology. I was really excited!
Feeling confident after yesterdays successes we decided to test out a few new toys for the ROV on Sunday. The first thing we tested was a special type of GoPro mount. The mount attached to the bottom of the ROV and allowed the GoPro to face straight down. This would allow us to shoot detailed footage of the seafloor which could in theory be turned into a 3D map of the seafloor.
We deployed the ROV and headed out. We started okay, but the water was choppy and we banged into a few rocks. When we got further out, we charged out into calmer water but we struggled to find the reef. So we figured we’d cut our losses, detach the GoPro attachment and just practice piloting a bit more.
I piloted the ROV back into the shore, Jesse picked it up and I immediately said some profanities when I saw that GoPro was gone! The GoPro mount I’d 3D printed had snapped during one of those collisions with the rocks. Jesse was about to go jump in to try find it but I had a better idea…
I quickly pointed out that the second ROV attachment I’d prepared to test was a grabber claw.
Out of that, a rescue plan was born. Admittedly, it was a wildly optimistic plan: use an untested grabber claw to search somewhat choppy water for a small camera we hope to grab in rapidly fading sunlight with an ROV we just barely knew how to pilot.
But we’re an optimistic bunch and much to our surprise we found the camera (check out the photographic proof that we did find the Gopro!).
And were we successful?
Sadly no, while we were able to find the GoPro (much to our surprise). The water was too choppy for the ROV to make an approach and grab it. It is close to shore so it is retrievable. Yesterday Jesse tried to go for a swim to retrieve it. The visibility didn’t allow it. Another attempt will happen soon, cross your fingers for me!