The SkiMonkey is an interesting tool that researchers at the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON) are using to explore deep-sea benthic fauna. It is an underwater camera, which, thanks to a special housing, can reach 800m depth. The camera has full lighting and lasers for size calibration, and is designed to ski on the soft sediment seafloor. As it is towed by the research ship it records amazing interesting video and photographs. The footage it records can be used to identify the different species present at several depth and to quantify them as well.
Over the last few years SAEON has started to do some research along the South African coast and in the Southern Ocean with the use of this camera. They use this tool for several projects but the main point is to look at long-term population changes of the sea floor. Some of the projects are related to marine protected areas, as for example the Prince Edward Islands, others are looking at the effect of trawling on the sea floor.
Dr Charles von der Meden is a post-doc fellow and one of the main researchers using this camera system in South Africa. Here are some of the still images Charles and MSc student, Robyn Adams have taken in the proximity of the Prince Edward Islands during the annual relief voyager on board of the SA Agulhas II in April 2013 and May 2015.
Here you can also find two videos that explain the camera and its use in one of SAEON’s collaborative projects, it’s really interesting and well done.. don’t miss out!‼ https://vimeo.com/97715970 and here https://vimeo.com/123743027
Information about SAEON are available here, http://www.saeon.ac.za/
For more information on the SkiMonkey contact Dr Charles Von der Meden email: firstname.lastname@example.org