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SkiMonkey III benthic camera put to the test before Marion Island survey

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SkiMonkey III is loaded onto Agulhas II for initial trials. (Picture: Charles von der Meden)

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SkiMonkey III is lowered into Cape Town harbour to check underwater functioning and live controls. (Picture: Charles von der Meden)

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This month is set to see the first scientific field deployment of the SkiMonkey III benthic camera.

Funded through the national Strategic Research Infrastructure Programme (SRIG), the camera system is designed to be towed on the seafloor, with full lighting and lasers for size calibration.

Inter-island survey

Charles von der Meden, a postdoctoral researcher from the SAEON Egagasini Node will be heading to Marion Island aboard the R/V Agulhas II to carry out an inter-island survey of epibenthic invertebrates.

This comes as part of the South African National Antarctic Programme’s annual relief voyage in conjunction with the Department of Environmental Affairs and the South Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation South Africa (SAMOC-SA) project led by Dr Isabelle Ansorge of the University of Cape Town. The benthic work aims to re-sample stations surveyed in a much earlier photographic survey done by Prof. George Branch, Dr Colin Attwood and others in 1988.

Trials

Leading up to this work, trials of the SkiMonkey camera have begun. An along-side trial off the R/V Agulhas II took place on 11 March, during which the camera was set up and deployed off the stern of the vessel, checking underwater functioning and compatibility with the ship’s systems. Trials will allow a detailed check-list type protocol to be developed for ensuring successful camera deployment.

A sea trial was planned for 13-17 March, but had to be cancelled due to a medical emergency on Marion Island.

"Learning on the job will certainly be the name of the game once the month-long cruise gets underway on 11 April, but with such potential for interesting work, we look forward to putting the long-awaited SkiMonkey camera to the test," Charles told SAEON eNews.

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On April 16, Dr Juliet Hermes, Manager of the SAEON Egagasini Node reported as follows:

"Last night Charles managed to successfully, for the first time ever, deploy our SkiMonkey III camera and obtained a good full video transect of the seabed with still photos."

"Congratulations Charles! Well done on no simple task!"

Follow the activities of Dr Charles von der Meden while he is exploring the Prince Edward Islands. Visit the blog


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