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7 Tips for Getting the Most out of your ROV for Underwater Research

Rachel Doornekamp   |   September 17, 2020

Portable and quick to deploy, Deep Trekker’s battery powered ROVs are perfect for conducting underwater research. Weatherproof handheld controllers paired with reliable and robust ROVs make both the DTG3 and the REVOLUTION suitable for a wide range of conditions and locations.

Equipped with an HD camera and a live feed to the handheld controller, Deep Trekker ROVs allow operators to conduct underwater research without having to send a diver in the water. Users can follow the activity and behavior of fish, determine the health of plant life, monitor invasive species and detect changes in the underwater environment all from topside. Specialized add-ons such as sediment samplers, water samplers, laser scalers, grabber arms and the multiparameter sonde provide operators with a convenient way to conduct in-depth research.

Read on to learn more about how you can use your ROV for successful underwater research.

Make Use of Your Samplers

Deep Trekker offers a selection of water samplers and sediment samplers that provide researchers with a quick and reliable way to get the information they need.

Wilfrid Laurier University made use of their water sampler when they were conducting climate change research in Délı̨nę, within the Tsá Tué International Biosphere Reserve in the Northwest Territories. Lead by Canada Research Chair in Remote Sensing of Environmental Change (ReSEC) and assistant professor in Wilfrid Laurier University's Department of Geography and Environmental Studies , Homa Kheyrollah Pour , the team set out to gather information regarding the effects of climate change on Arctic lake ice.

Kheyrollah Pour explained that as the duration of seasonal lake ice cover is declining across Canada due to global warming, the duration of the open water season will increase which has numerous implications for the environment and lake ecosystem. By monitoring winter ice cover conditions and under-ice water quality, the ReSEC team can learn more about these changes and make recommendations for the future.

Using the DTG3, the ReSEC team took important water and sediment samples. “Without the ROV, we couldn’t collect water samples under the ice at various depths up to 45m,” shared Kheyrollah Pour. With the temperature sensor on the ROV, the researchers were able to gather data regarding changing water temperatures at numerous depths and locations. Noting that land loses heat faster than water, Kheyrollah Pour mentioned that obtaining these temperatures was crucial to her research.

Looking at algae blooms also provided key information for the ReSEC team. “We used the Deep Trekker for sampling different depths and to take sediment samples from the bottom,” said Kheyrollah Pour. Taking samples from different depths and locations gave the team a complete look at the surrounding environment.

You can read more about Kheyrollah Pour’s climate change research in our blog .

Use an ROV with a Rotating Camera Head

An ROV with a rotating camera head gives you flexibility to look straight down during your survey at the sea floor while driving forwards. Researchers are able to make the most of their underwater views and access views in even the most difficult spaces.

The rotating camera head also allows users to rotate the direction of imaging sonar should you choose to add it on. With the rotating head users can adjust the direction of sonar and sweep targets.

Furthermore the rotating camera head allows you to change the direction of add on tools such as grabbers and sediment samplers for ease of use.

Dolphin

Stay Neutral in Animal Behaviour Research

Underwater animal research is immensely valuable however it is crucial that the animals being observed aren’t influenced by the human researcher’s behaviour. Island Dolphin Care in Key Largo, Florida recently used the DTG3 to observe the behaviour of their dolphins without inadvertently influencing that behaviour.

“It’s great to be able to interact with the dolphins without having a human face there,” said Philip Admire, Director of Zoology at Island Dolphin Care. “We do a lot of diving here with our dolphins and with the ROV we’re able to do that remotely. When you’re human working with these animals on research you give out these subtle cues and you don’t realize it. The Deep Trekker is not going to do that and we’re going to be able to expand our research possibilities.” The Island Dolphin Care team is able to conduct more accurate research as they are not impacting the dolphins’ behaviour.

“One of the things we’re working on right now is a match program,” shared Admire. “We’re teaching the dolphins to match and locate.” Using the DTG3, the team is able to present objects to the dolphins to match without delivering subtle cues about the correct answer.

Using an ROV, research teams can more accurately observe animal behaviour without actually impacting or changing that behaviour.

Learn more about Island Dolphin Care’s use of the DTG3 in our blog.

Shawn Robinson research

Take Advantage of the Vehicles’ Adaptability

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your ROV. Deep Trekker ROVs are versatile vehicles that can be adapted to work best for you!

A senior research scientist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans at the Biological Station in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Shawn Robinson is actively engaged in learning how the ocean is changing. One way he is doing this is by monitoring how human interaction is altering marine life.

Robinson set out to understand soft-bottom ocean sites at nearby aquaculture farms. His project focused on collecting enough samples to determine what sort of species were living there, what their genetic makeup was, and how this group of species is potentially changing with the development of an aquaculture site.

Although his Deep Trekker ROV came equipped with the water sampling feature, Robinson wanted to make use of the ROVs adaptability by creating a way to collect multiple samples at the same site. Robinson used a free 3D modeling software and was able to create and print many iterations of six syringes in a circle. The design took advantage of the rotating manipulator function on the Deep Trekker ROV, which would open all of the syringes at the same time to bring in the water sample.

The Deep Trekker manipulator provided the exact motion Robinson required to open the syringes, as the manipulator could rotate continuously 360-degrees. The syringes could be set to be closed prior to the dive, and when rotated, an attached string would pull all the syringes open.

Robinson investigated two sites in close proximity to aquaculture farms and collected over 200 samples with the Deep Trekker ROV. Each of the six syringes designed by Robinson took in 50cc of sediment and water and were then used to distinguish the species inhabiting the area.

More information about Shawn Robinson and his work can be found on our blog.

Think about Data Recording

The recording and display of data is crucial for successful research. The Bridge software on our controller allows you to view your Dissolved Oxygen, Temperature and Google maps position all in one place on your recorded video. You also can record the data as a .csv file (Excel document to track changes over the dive) and .gpx file (visualize the data after on a google map).

Play

wcs

Share Your Knowledge

After you’ve used your ROV to conduct your research, the ROV makes it easy to share that knowledge. In addition to easily saving extensive photos and videos, the user friendly aspect of the ROV makes it easy to engage students.

The Wildlife Conservation Society Canada (WCS) and Moose Cree First Nation Resource Protection, collaborated to learn more about the movement and behaviour of lake sturgeon in natural and hydroelectrically dammed rivers of the Moose Cree Homeland. Using the DTG3, the project aimed to monitor lake sturgeon and monitor the receivers tracking the fish.

Lake sturgeon, Canada’s largest freshwater fish, are unfortunately a threatened species. Lake sturgeon populations collapsed after overfishing due to the global demand for caviar. However, currently lake sturgeon still face threats of habitat loss, fragmentation, and declining water quality. These massive fish are incredibly important to the Moose Cree as both a food source and a species of significant cultural importance. It is therefore crucial that we learn as much as possible about lake sturgeon to help them recover, and to make the best management and planning decisions to help this unique species.

By tracking the lake sturgeon, the team is learning how the fish use and respond to different river systems. This information can then be used to understand what factors are most important to lake sturgeon, and those that impact fish health and behaviour.

In addition to using the DTG3 to move and monitor receivers, the group incorporated the ROV into their Youth Program. The lake sturgeon research crew brought along Moose Cree youth on their field work to give the youth real fieldwork and science experience while also taking them parts of their traditional territory. The ROV brought an added level of excitement to the trip, while allowing youth to learn even more about what’s going on underwater in rivers.

During their last week with the ROV, the lake sturgeon team in Thunder Bay took the ROV to a grade nine science class at Dennis Franklin Cromarty First Nations High School. Here, they talked about the amazing species that lake sturgeon is, about the lake sturgeon research project, and ended the talk with a not-so-dry-land ROV demonstration in a large container filled with water, right in the middle of the classroom! This kind of novel, high-tech, hands-on science like the ROV deserves to be shared as much as possible.

You can check out WCS’s Lake Sturgeon research here!

Pick an ROV with Proven Durability and Customer Service

We have thousands of ROVs spread across more than 100 countries. Our systems are well known for their durability, partially due to the magnetically coupled thrusters, which do not require ongoing oiling, greasing or replacement. Our systems are built with tough materials, including sapphire, stainless steel, carbon fibre and anodized aluminum. The controllers are weatherproof and meant for the elements that you face out on the water.Read our reviews as well to see what other customers think!

To learn more about the use of Deep Trekkers in underwater research check out Underwater Data Collection Made Easy with a Deep Trekker ROV and Using ROVs to Engage Youth with the Environment.

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