San Diego, CA
While most of the life in the ocean lives in relatively shallow water, sometimes we need to dive deeper to gather data for the projects that we work on. And sometimes we’re not always interested in the life in the ocean, but rather some of the more physical aspects. While SCUBA diving is a great tool for gathering data, sometimes it’s better not to put divers in the water. Over the last several years, the use of Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) have become vital for studying physical and biological patterns in the ocean. Tethered to a boat and operated by a “pilot”, scientists can “fly” ROVs from shallow waters down to the deepest depths; equipped with all sorts of cameras sensors and instruments, these “robots” have allowed us to explore the ocean safely and efficiently. One of the most famous ROV discoveries was that of the wreck of the Titanic by Dr. Bob Ballard in 1998.
So, you might be asking yourself, “why is a self-proclaimed algae nerd talking about ROVs?” Well, I am incredibly excited to introduce Project Pegasus. Along with four incredibly talented high school student-interns from La Jolla, San Diego, I will be building the Edwards Lab’s very own ROV! With the help of the Edwards Lab, we were able to purchase our very own OpenROV v2.8 kit, which is essentially a DIY ROV kit. While the concept of a DIY ROV kit is pretty outstandingly novel, one of the coolest aspects of OpenROV is the international community of ROV users. Folks have built and modified these little robots for use in lakes, underwater caves and in oceans around the world. And now we have our very own!
As I mentioned above, the team consists of four determined high school students from the Windansea Surf Club in La Jolla. These committed ocean-enthusiasts proved their mettle when they mapped their local reef with the use of a fish-finder and a couple of kayaks in 2015. Now we’re hoping to really step things up with Project Pegasus; we’ve already got some exciting projects in the works. As part of this internship, the team members are each responsible for drafting grant proposals centered around ROV-related projects. I’m really proud of the team’s creativity, so be sure to check back in for updates as we move forward
However, we’re just getting started with the actually construction of our ROV. The team and I learned a lot about acrylic and solvent welding. For example, you don’t technically glue acrylic, you use a solvent to weld pieces together. Along the way my interns and I will be learning how to solder, work with circuit boards, and trouble-shoot any and all issues related to the construction and deployment of an ROV. And the clock is already ticking! We’ve got just a few short months before the Edwards Lab takes off for our last Aleutians cruise, and we’ve already got big plans for little Pegasus.
Be sure to check back in as we work through the build-phase of Project Pegasus. And check out our OpenExplorer page for more exciting updates!
Keep on exploring!
-Baron von Urchin
Pike Spector is currently a Research Operations Specialist with Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary