The Science

Collecting the seafloor photos

Marine scientists used to don their scuba gear to do surveys of the seafloor. But a new Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) facility – part of the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) – has made obtaining seafloor data easier, cheaper and more comprehensive, and has revolutionised the way marine biologists work.

These AUVs can be precisely navigated into position at selected locations around Australia and provide high-resolution, overlapping seafloor images that create a detailed and extensive snapshot of the seafloor.

One trip can provide tens of thousands of images. The ability to conduct high-resolution, repeatable surveys of marine habitats – particularly those beyond diver depths – represents one of the key benefits of AUVs.

The images taken by AUVs provide a critical observational link between oceanographic data collected from buoys and satellites, and what’s actually going on at the bottom of the ocean.

Those AUV images are the ones you’ll be looking at if you take part in Explore the Seafloor.

The following photo gallery shows some of the AUVs being used on field trips around Australia. Warning: it might make you want to become a marine scientist!

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