I was invited by Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) to participate as a visiting educator on a one day cruise aboard the CCGS Tully. The day’s mission was to retrieve and deploy several instrumentation platforms that are part of the ONC Venus network in Saanich Inlet. Saanich Inlet is of particular environmental scientific interest due to its low oxygen conditions.
It was fascinating to see how much work was involved in both retrieving and deploying equipment to their “homes” 100m below the surface in Saanich Inlet. The Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) is managed by a team of four and goes down to the bottom on a tether and finds the instrument platform and attaches a retrieval rope. It then finds the main node and disconnects the wiring/communication system (think of the challenges of making an electrical hookup 100m down in salt water!). Positioning precision is accomplished using acoustic beacons. Installing platforms involves lowering them to the sea bed, releasing them using an acoustic coupler unit, and then finding and connecting them to the node using the ROV.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the ONC’s chief scientist aboard was a SMUS alumnus, Paul Macoun, who was in my first ever physics class at SMUS in 1986! Paul directed operations throughout the day and had to make several scheduling and program decisions based on changing conditions.
At the end of the day we made a trawl to catch some “slender sole” which are small bottom fish which are able to tolerate the low oxygen conditions. Jackson Chu is a PhD student who is trying to discover how these fish manage down there. During the day I was able to make several Twitter posts (below) and a couple of Skype calls back to classes at SMUS and also to classes at Pearson College. I was on board for almost 13 hours before the shift was over and I returned to the Institute of Ocean Sciences.
Check out the archived video of the expedition here.