Pulling the SPCs from the Ocean… with a Friend

The SPCs are still undergoing maintenance and we recently retrieved them from the pier with friendly cephalopod stowed away under our device. The sucker was a little attached, but we managed to safely return him to the sea. After handling the stowaway, we cleaned off as much kelp and barnacles as we could, then prepped the SPCs for dismantlement and a deep clean. Once they are refitted and redeployed, we will post an update here. Big thanks to our divers, Rich and Taylor, for helping get the cameras out of the water!

2021 JOSA A Emerging Researcher Best Paper Winner!

A committee of editors from the Journal of the Optical Society of America A (JOSA A) choose our paper on Plankton reconstruction through robust statistical optical tomography for the Best Research Paper Prize! They were particularly impressed by the thoroughness of the study and the clarity of our presentation. Check out the above link if you want to learn more about this topic.

Continued SPC Maintenance

The SPCs still need additional maintenance and software updates. The cameras are currently turned off and we are making adjustments as we speak. If you’re missing out on your daily dose of plankton, please visit this secondary site where our Swiss colleagues are posting live images from a lake in Switzerland. Once the cameras are back on, we will post an update here. Thank you!

Annual Maintenance of SPCs Complete!

The time has come yet again for the annual overhaul of the SPCs. With volunteers from the Scripps diver community, the cameras were removed from the pier piling, hoisted to the pier deck, and thoroughly cleaned. The cables and underwater wipers were replaced, and then the refreshed instrument was lowered down and reinstalled. Many thanks to the hard work of our divers Natalia, Rex, Rich, and Taylor!

SPCs Undergo Annual Overhaul

Early in November, the SPCs were pulled from the pier and brought back to the lab for a full overhaul. One of the internal computers had suffered thermal damage from a damaged cooling fan, so after some replacements, upgrades, and realigning, the SPCs were successfully remounted yesterday. They are once again onine!

SPC Cleaned and Serviced

Recently, biofouling on the ports began ot cut off the field of view, showig that it was time for another cleaning. Scripps divers were able to clean off the ports, as well as replace a cable that had ceased to function. Thanks to their hard work, the SPC is once again capturing and saving live data. How does a cable break happen? Generally it starts with a small hole in the jacket from a barnacle. All it takes is a smal gap for seawater to access one of the conductors in the cable. In this case, it was the ground line that got exposed. Once open to the water, galvanic corrosion sped along by the operating voltage then make short work of the exposed conductor.

SPC Site Undergoing Maintenance

The backend of the SPC website is undergoing some sorely needed upgrades and revitalization as the servers are being updated and replaced with more secure systems. Sadly, the plankton viewer will be down until this work can be completed. The data is safe, and the viewer will be back up as soon as possible!

New wipers installed

Pichaya and Eric removed the entire SPC frame yesterday morning to take care of some major maintenance. After only three months since the last surface cleaning session, the whole system had gotten pretty fuzzy. Check out all that growth!

Aside from giving the SPC a shave, the major reason for pulling the instrument was to reinstall the port wipers. Putting the wipers on the frame is too challenging for a diver to do underwater, so we had to wait for a good swell window to bring it to surface.

Once the SPC was on the pier, Devin and Alejandra joined in for some good ol’ barnacle smashing and gunk scraping. After the system was reasonably clean, we attached wipers. A good amount of time went into aligning the blades – each one needs to sweep across two ports with enough pressure to remove any sediment or critters.

With the wipers installed and tested, the team decided to change the u-bolts for a clamp system. The u-bolts have held the camera housings to the frame for several years. The threads were corroded from years of exposure and ran the risk of coming loose. Moreover, the clamps are a little easier to install and leave more space for cables.

After re-securing all the cables and the copper mesh cage, Pichaya and Eric returned the fully assembled system to its spot on the pier. All told, the camera was out of the water for about 6 hours. Between the cage and wipers, we hope the SPC will not need to come to the surface again for another 6 months or so.

The SPC immediately started collecting a huge number of images of diatom chains! Go to the image viewer for more of those. You can also look at our historical data and to see how the plankton population shifts over time.

Check out more of Pichaya’s pictures of our cleaning session on Scripps Pier.