Send the Beast into the Abyss

Dwart Wrymouth

Dwarf Wrymouth North of Orcas Island. Animals are returned to the water after measurement.

It’s a different world one thousand feet underwater. The fish and their habitat are strange and wonderful. Some have rarely been seen by human beings, or not at all.

The Puget Sound Partnership has objectives to meet a 2020 year goal for the health of Puget Sound. But how do you measure progress when you’re not sure what’s there to begin with? And how do you conduct a baseline survey almost two Space Needles deep, where divers can’t go?

The answer is: send The Beast.

The Beast is one of several affectionate, unofficial nicknames for a remote operated vehicle (ROV) co-owned by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR). You could also call the underwater robot by its more “official” nickname Yelloweye, after the yelloweye rockfish (an Endangered Species Act-listed Threatened Species). The ROV is tethered to the surface with a one-thousand-foot umbilical line that supplies electricity, video feed to the surface, and directional controls.  Operators view the underwater world through a monitor that displays the ROV video image. A light bar is attached to the ROV for full spectrum light at all depths.

One of Hart Crowser’s newest employees, James (you can call him Jamey) Selleck, spent 75 hours driving The Beast remotely underwater while employed with WDFW. The state’s team explored over 200 sites during 2012 throughout the Straits of Juan de Fuca, San Juan Islands, HoodCanal, WhidbeyBasin, and Puget Sound.

The information they gathered is of great help managing Puget Sound marine fish, and evaluating the success of WashingtonState’s strategies to restore Puget Sound.

More pictures, below.

More information about the ROV

Puget Sound Partnership Action Agenda

WDFW Rockfish Conservation

Remote Operated Vehicle

Remote Operated Vehicle ready for launch.

Albino ratfish

Albino ratfish.

Bocaccio rockfish

Endangered Bocaccio rockfish, 472 feet deep off west side of San Juan Island. Green lasers are 10 cm apart; this fish is about 20 cm long.

spiny dogfish sharks

School of spiny dogfish sharks, 578 feet deep, near Sekiu, Washington

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