- Press Release - October 18, 2004
New Submarine Making a
Splash at Bermuda Biological Station for Research
The Bermuda Biological Station for Research (BBSR) is trying out
a new submarine in some of its research and educational
programs, and the initial tests have proved very
The tiny remotely operated vehicle, called a
VideoRay ROV, weighs only eight pounds and is
one of the most compact ROVs on the market, allowing
BBSR researchers to explore deep or potentially
dangerous study sites that were previously inaccessible.
The submarine is equipped with video equipment
and a manipulator arm that can be used to collect
small samples of sediment or corals.
Staff from BBSR
and VideoRay prepare to send the new ROV
on a test dive in one of Bermuda's caves.
Steve Van Meter
“The ROV’s most important
function is to do things divers cannot or should
not do,” said Dr. Joanna Pitt of BBSR’s
Marine Environmental Program. BBSR scientists
have been using the recently acquired ROV to conduct
observations at deeper sites, where divers cannot
remain safely for more than five minutes, and
at the sewage outfall on south shore.
Dr. Pitt said the small size and easy maneuverability
of the submarine were the key features that attracted
BBSR scientists to this model of ROV, which is
manufactured by the Pennsylvania-based company
VideoRay. “The ROV is so small and unobtrusive
that we are able to observe fishes without disturbing
them,” she said.
BBSR’s Marine Environmental Program team
is taking advantage of these features of the ROV
in a new program with Dr. Brian Luckhurst, from
the Marine Resources Division of the Department
of Environmental Protection, to observe a black
grouper spawning aggregation near the edge of
the Bermuda platform. Species such as red hinds
and other groupers, all of which are commercially
important, spawn together in large groups at specific
sites and are particularly vulnerable to fishing
unless measures are put in place to protect them.
“With spawning aggregations under threat
worldwide, the reproductive behavior of these
aggregating species is an important research topic,”
said Dr. Pitt. “The depths at which aggregations
generally form are often beyond the limits of
safe diving, so the remote cameras of the ROV
provide a unique opportunity to study these fishes.
This project is the start of an important collaborative
effort between BBSR scientists and the Marine
BBSR's new remotely
operated vehicle is an eight-pound submarine
that can collect images and samples from
sites that are too deep or dangerous for
BBSR has also begun to incorporate
the ROV into its marine education programs, with
plans to use it for everything from university-level
summer and semester courses to visiting high school
groups and local school groups. For example, underwater
activities that students need to perform on the
reefs will be videoed by the ROV and shown prior
to educational dives.
“It is hard for many students because they
have never done science diving before,”
said Dr. Samantha de Putron, instructor in residence
at BBSR. “The concepts of the work are hard
to grasp until the students are actually underwater,
when it’s difficult to ask questions. The
ROV footage will give the students a much better
idea of what they are going to see and what the
correct techniques are.”
The new ROV is also expected to be the star of
BBSR’s most popular educational outreach
program, Marine Science Day, which will take place
at the Ferry Reach facility this Saturday from
11am to 4pm. Visitors at the open house will be
given the opportunity to see the submarine in
action and learn firsthand how it can be used
to advance BBSR’s marine environmental and
Last month, the VideoRay research and development
team, including the president of VideoRay and
an engineer from NASA Kennedy Space Center, visited
BBSR to use the deep ocean surrounding Bermuda
as a testing location for their new ROV “Deep
Blue,” which made a successful dive off
the south shore to 1,000 feet.
BBSR is an independent marine science organization.
It was founded in 1903 by scientists from Harvard
and New York University to take advantage of Bermuda’s
ideal location for deep-ocean and coral reef research
and education. BBSR is a Registered Bermuda Charity
and a U.S. 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.
For more information about BBSR, visit www.bbsr.edu.
Printable version of this press release from
BBSR's website: http://www.bbsr.edu/Press_and_Pubs/proct1304/proct1304.html
Contact Bermuda Biological Station for Research
(BBSR): Dr. Joanna Pitt, BBSR Postdoctoral Scientist.
Tel: 441-297-1880 ext. 242; E-mail:
Contact VideoRay LLC: Kayla Patenaude, VideoRay
Public Relations. Tel: (603) 428-4231; E-mail:
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