IEO Scientists Undertake the First Oceanographic Campaign Using the Liropus 2000 ROV
Nine scientists from the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO), in cooperation with the Naval Hydrographic Institute, embarked on the oceanographic vessel Ramon Margalef from April 9th to April 24th for a scientific research expedition organized by INDEMARES. The aim is to gather more information on seabed ecosystems using the latest-generation observation systems without disrupting the environment at all. The expedition will visit several sites where methane gas seepage has resulted in the emergence of protected or endangered species.
The area to be explored is located off the coast of the provinces of Cadiz and Huelva , at depths ranging from 300 to 800 meters in the El Laberinto fishing ground and it is named as Chimeneas de Cádiz. The scientists will be working with a modern Super Mohawk II remote observation vehicle (ROV) known as Liropus 2000. They will also be using a prototype towed observation vehicle called Chanquete 2012, developed at the IEO’s Centro Oceanográfico de Málaga by the marine geoscience group (www.ma.ieo.es/gemar/). This vehicle can be used to obtain very-high-definition digital images simultaneously in video and photographic formats. The combination of both robots widens the observation spectrum so the scientists will have different types of images that are essential for understanding sea-floor biodiversity without disrupting its dynamic equilibrium.
The scientific study will analyze the degree of conservation of the ecosystems generated by the methane gas seeps from the sea floor. Natura 2000 has classified this peculiar underwater environment as Habitat 1180. A latest-generation oceanographic vessel like the Ramón Margalef provides the opportunity for using very-high-resolution acoustic prospection systems that listen to the deposits that make up the seabed with top precision. These highly precise data help define the nature of the habitat being studied with a level of detail unknown up to now.