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.