Confirming a new species usually require detailed examination of a captured specimen and comparing it to existing species. But deep down at the bottom of the ocean, it can be rare to find the specimen, let alone capture it. Scientist from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) explain that they may encounter a new specimen once — and then never see it again.
But what they do have helping them is a thethered remotely operated vehicle (ROV) called Deep Discoverer which is equipped with a camera able to capture very high-definition videos.
It’s unique because we were able to describe a new species based entirely on high-definition video. The cameras on the Deep Discoverer robot are able to get high-resolution images and measure structures less than a millimeter. We don’t have the same microscopes as we would in a lab, but the video can give us enough information to understand the morphology in detail, such as the location of their reproductive parts and other aspects… No physical samples were collected, so the videos are our only evidence of the species’ existence.
— NOAA Fisheries scientist Allen Collins
The nine video cameras on Deep Discoverer (D2) can zoom in on a three-inch long organism from 10 feet away. D2 also has 20 LED lights provide 150,000 lumens of light to illuminate the dark depths of the ocean. Telepresence technology allows live video to be sent from the seafloor to the ship and then via satellite connection to scientists located on shore who use the real-time video to provide guidance to the pilots on where to go and which samples to collect. The live video is also broadcast to the Internet, allowing members of the public to join in on D2’s adventures.
Here are some of the high-definition video cameras:
- Insite Pacific “Zeus Plus” HD
- Insite Pacific “Mini Zeus” HD
- Insite Pacific “Titan Plus” HD
- Kongsberg Tilt/Rotate SD
- (3) Insite Pacific Aurora SD