Glass Sponges of South Howe Sound (plus random critters)

May 28 2015
Collect data on the glass sponge reef in southern Howe Sound, near Passage Island. Deploy a buoy in the area so that the exact spot can be visited and revisited to track changes and map. Read background

May 28 2015


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Mission Underway

Here is the video from the first trip. I cut out most of the crap at the beginning of the trip since that is just BORING!

Make sure you are sitting down at around 3:24 because there is a very large and frightening sea monster that tries to eat the ROV. Nom!

Also note that you cannot tell from my silence that I am feeling sea sick. You can not.

I was wondering why it took sooo long for the rov to reach the bottom but then it occurred to me that the depth sensor is new and I likely have to change the AConfigsomething file to use it properly. My guess is that it is reading 1/3rd of the actual value since the new depth sensor is rated to 3x the old one. that would put the dive at a max depth of about 84 m.
Also my ROV is heavy. I added lights (which are quite bright!) and a small Raspberry pi computer but did not adjust for them. oops. So I adjusted the depth of the ROV by releasing more tether to go lower and reeling in to go higher. The lateral movement you see it I think from the ROV slowly moving like a pendulum. It started at a bit of an angle it is is working its way to being straight down from the rov (it never gets there). I did have a clump weight on the tether as well.

They're only at 30 meters?! That's so shallow! Darcy this is great.

BFS at 3:30 !!!

No, the depth sensor isn't set up properly yet. I think it was more like 85 m. Which means we were over 100m at Tahoe. :D

Also, Here is that Dolphins video I told you about, from when i was crossing to Vancouver Island on the ferry.

Cool! The visibility looks really good down there. Thanks for the tip, @erikabergman! BFS indeed

Jeez Darcy! That's a lot of dolphins! In the next few days the Whale Entanglement Team is going to put up some video of a super pod as well. We tried to fly an ROV into them. Permitted of course.

Well done, and great visibility!

Preparation Stage

Here is a video of the buoy deployment. The battery died before I had finished so there is no proof at all that I spliced a loop in the line for the anchor. Twice (if at first you don't succeed and all that)

Expedition Background

Last year, I went on a short expedition into southern Howe Sound, just outside English bay and very near to Passage Island. My ROV has been hardened to go deep, and therefore, I wanted to do exactly that! The location is good for two reasons. The first is, deep water and the deep water is within range of water shallow enough for me to anchor. The second is, the shallow anchorage is actually the tip of a mini sea mount. As everyone knows (from watching discovery channel, PBS, BBC etc.) sea mounts are much beloved by sea critters. And sea critters are the whole point of ROVing for me.

Having discovered my target location and motoring out to it, I dropped my OpenROV into the greeny-black depths, sick with excitement!* I found, what at first I thought were Coral, but later discovered were in fact Glass Sponges, the reef building kind. I went back a second time, with my friend Chris and instead of anchoring, I tried to station keep with my motor. No. I was all over the place and the ROV was mostly at the whim of the current. Still, we managed to float above the bottom, looking down with the camera and capture some really exciting footage (at least for us), which is actually when I realized that these were sponges and not coral. The little reef was really amazing and full of life!

It turns out that these Glass Sponges are pretty special.

The reef building varieties of glass sponges have been only found in the Pacific Northwest (BC and WA) and before the late 80's early 90's had been thought extinct for 40 - 100 million years (depending on the journalist writing).

So, now it is time to go back. Anchoring is out since anchors will readily smash sponges in an attempt to do their duty. Manual Station keeping is... No. So that leaves placing a buoy, which i have already done. It is possible that the buoy anchor caused damage when it was placed, (though I attempted to put it just out side the area marked on this one map I found on the internets) though the damage, if any, will be limited to that one act of violence. I have used polypropylene rope, which floats, to keep the line off the sea floor and have a chain added at about the 60 m mark to keep it off the sea surface.

There are technical hurdles still to overcome of course, but we shall laugh at those! Until they laugh at us... then we shall solve them! Who laughs last, only time will tell.

*Sea = excitement.