Cleaning Dive

Pichaya and Paul cleaned the cameras yesterday in the midst of a significant bloom of phytoplankton. All the new fixtures are working well.

Cameras Back Up

We installed the cameras today after a two-week down time for maintenance. They are back online and recording data.

We completed the following major work on the cameras

  • Replace a broken wiper
  • Improve the contrast in the SPCP2 images by adjusting the illumination optics
  • Replace the old and damaged aluminum plates with fiberglass
  • Replace the permanent copper mesh with a larger, removable mesh for monthly cleaning

Below are some photos of the assembly before going into the water


Zebra-Tech Hydro-Wipers Added to Automatically Clean Camera Ports

In early June we added two custom designed Zebra-Tech  Hydro-Wipers to the camera system to automatically cleaning the view ports and reduce the number of port cleaning dives required and increase the data quality between cleanings. The wipers have been running once an hour for the last three months. The wipers have made a huge improvement in data quality and reduction in cleaning effort. The ports can now be left for several months at a time without the need for manual cleaning while the port surface remains nearly as clean as immediately after a manual cleaning by divers.

Below are two videos of the new wiper setup. The first video shows the ports after 6 weeks without any manual cleaning, the second video shows the wiper in action. Videos are courtesy of Jimmy Fumo and Melissa Carter.

Cameras are back in the water

After almost three weeks of maintenance, the SPC system is back on the pier! The housings got a fresh coat of tape, the end-caps were cleared of barnacles, and the ports have new anti-biofouling wipers. As soon as the cameras were turned on, they started capturing loads of images of diatom chains. Hopefully the new wipers will keep the samples coming at full capacity with minimal service requirements.

This 0.5-mm long diatom chain showed up in the SPCP within 10 minutes of system powering up.

SPC Maintenance

The SPC has been out of the water for the past two weeks for cleaning and maintenance. We are in the process of outfitting the cameras with a new anti-biofouling system to keep the ports clear. If it works out, it will reduce the need for manual cleaning by our dive team. The instruments are set to go back in the water next week. Stay tuned!

Camera Cleaning

The cameras were cleaned today after a delay of a week due to weather and swell conditions. The SPCP2 camera was highly fouled compared to the SPC2 camera. In the next few weeks we’ll install wipers and do an extensive cleaning operation.

Microflagellate Munchies

Over the past month, the SPCP has been a dinner guest for a Protoperidinium feast! These small dinoflagellates have some fascinating table manners. Rather than ingesting their prey, they eat their food extracellularly. A hungry Protoperidinium will chemically sense a near-by cell and envelop it in a sticky sheet called a pallium or feeding veil. Once the prey is captured, the Protoperidinium secretes a digestive enzyme into the sac. The predator breaks down the innards of the prey and ingests the bits. Finally, the Protoperidinium retracts the veil, leaving behind any material it could not digest. In lab studies, the whole process takes about 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the prey (though one observed feeding took nearly two hours). According to a 1984 study by Gaines and Taylor, Protoperidinium can capture cells up to 10 times its’ diameter! That would be kind of like seeing a 6 foot tall man eating a 60 foot long burrito.

This image was captured by the SPCP on Friday September 16th at about 5 PM Pacific time. The Protoperidinium is the diamond shaped cell toward the bottom left. Notice the feeding veil extending to the prey cell. Check out the gallery for more images!