Robotic Seafloor Sets World Record

In modern days robots have become very common in some of the fields. Recently, an autonomous robotic seafloor has set its new world record by travelling long distance and for its sustaining duration under the sea while collecting climate data for the whole year. At present Benthic Rover which was developed by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in the United States of America is the only untethered autonomous seafloor crawler in existence.

The Rover operates at Station M which is an area of muddy, flat abysal seafloor four thousand meters deep and about two hundred twenty kilometers from the California coastline. It was under study since 1989 by MBARI marine ecologist Ken Smith and his colleagues. In this some of their instruments measure sinking particulate organic carbon in the form of marine snow that is bits of zooplankton detritus and phytoplankton along with faecal matter which drifts down to the seafloor.

One of the most important findings from the last few years of this Rover’s deployment involved several large pulses of marine snow which rapidly sank to the seafloor. The pulses are related to stronger along-shore winds which drice the upwelling of nutrients in the coastal waters.  These nutrients spur the growth of zooplankton and phytoplankton which would increase the amount of marine show that rains down to the seafloor. All the organisms in this abyssal realm rely upon marine show as its primary source of food. This Benthic Rover will record as how much of the marine snow is consumed by the seafloor community.

The Rover also detected several brief of two-to-four week events when an entire year’s worth of chlorophyll-rich detritus landed on seafloor. The Rover has been operative for the last 7 years and has been steadily increasing its duration of deployment along with distance travelled before bringing onboard a research vessel for its maintenance.