St. George, Bermuda (August 9, 2016) – Underwater conservation initiative Project Baseline has completed the longest underwater video transect from the deep ocean to a shoreline in history. The world record transect recorded two and a half miles of ocean floor off the coast of Bermuda and was achieved through the collaboration of GlobalSubDive (GSD) manned submersibles and volunteer scuba divers trained by Global Underwater Explorers (GUE). The marine life samples and stereo-video footage will be used to establish the first baseline for the health of the Sargasso Sea in Project Baseline’s database of documentation of the world’s aquatic environments.
A human-occupied submersible piloted by Robert Carmichael, founder of GlobalSubDive, started the video transect of the deep ocean floor at a site called Spittal. A series of (3) 20-minute, horizontal transect dives were carried out at 1,000, 800, and 650 feet. At 300 and 200 feet, a team of GUE technical divers led by Dr. Todd Kincaid completed horizontal stereo video transects and marine life sample collection and then continued a vertical line transect to the shoreline. The transect was completed in one day’s worth of diving, making it the most ever accomplished in one day, at this depth, and of this length.
“We’re creating vertical and horizontal transects, which allows us to understand a cross section of this environment,” Robert Carmichael said. “That is not being done anywhere, uniting a skilled technical diver set with scientists and submersibles for the benefit of the ocean.”
Project Baseline places humans into depths from 1,000 feet to the shoreline to collect high quality imagery from two different angles, as opposed to using remote operated vehicles (ROVs). Horizontal recordings capture fish populations and related habitat structure, while vertical angles aid researchers in understanding benthic communities in greater detail than currently known.
The video transect data and sample are given to scientists aboard the Baseline Explorer who are a part of the XL Catlin Deep Ocean Survey / Nekton Mission in Bermuda. Collectively, the missions are creating a new standardized methodology for marine biologists to measure physical, chemical, and biological indicators to assess the function, health, and resilience of the deep ocean. The data will be released as part of the XL Catlin Deep Ocean Survey after the mission ends on August 14.
“Not only are we going places people have never really been before, but we are collecting data that is critical to establishing environmental baselines in Bermuda and influencing conservation policy,” said Dr. Todd Kincaid, Director of Science and Conservation for Project Baseline.
The data collection missions are launched from the 146-foot r/v Baseline Explorer, a mobile diving platform equipped with human-occupied submersibles and volunteer technical dive teams.
“We believe that everyone in the world can have a true understanding of what is going on in the underwater environment once we have something to compare it to, but first we need to establish a baseline,” said Carmichael.
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