Over the past 10 years, I've been extremely lucky to have participated in more ROV cruises than anybody I know. Over 17 cruises, I've spent 119 at-sea days spent aboard 8 different research vessels. Vast majority of that time was spent using ROVs (used 5 different ones now!) dedicated to my own research that has broadly centred on mapping the diversity of benthic fish and invertebrates found in the northeast Pacific Ocean.
What do you get when you spend so much time exploring the deep-sea as a trained marine biologist, have the 'asian-tourist gene', and have a natural tendency to 'catch them all?' You accumulate a one-of-a-kind archive of images of marine critters. With my most recent cruise, I thought it would be fun to start compiling all my highlight shots into the online, georeferenced, database iNaturalist.
Here, you will find images of all sorts of weird and wonderful critters that I've come across in my past decade as a deep-sea biologist-in-training. Research scientists are always 'in-training' because the continual pursuit of knowledge means we're never done learning!
Without standardized protocols, it's very hard to achieve the scientific gold standard of reproducibility.
Whenever I begin a new research project that includes collecting new data, I will do as much as I can to document how the data was collected. Because most of my work is spent exploring deep-sea ecosystems, this means documenting the various equipment configurations/calibrations of the tools mounted to the different ROVs I've used (5 and counting!).
For the DFO 'BOOTs' towed-camera system, I was in charge of dialing in the forward-facing HD video camera lighting settings - the primary data-collection tool on the ROV. It's fair to say this was the first time 'lighting optimization' had been prioritized on BOOTs (to meet the minimum standard needed for visual surveys). So, there was, of course, various attempts at changing the lighting angles, camera and light placements during the first two dives. The goal was to optimize the data cameras but not 'be perfect' because the priorities were very much research-focused.
Jackson W.F. Chu
Jackson is a marine biologist, photographer, and dog-owner. This blog will try to be heavy on the photos and light on the text.