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HabCam4 HabCam 4, on deck May 26, 2016 after recovery from the ocean floor. Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries/Robert Johnston
ROV Kraken2 Remotely operated vehicle Kraken 2 used to recover the HabCam, arriving at the R/V Hugh R. Sharp. Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries/Robert Johnston

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May 26, 2016
Contact: Teri.Frady

NEFSC HabCam Recovered from Mid-Atlantic Waters

Scientists and crew aboard the R/V Hugh R. Sharp have recovered a valuable and important scientific instrument from the ocean bottom where it was lost during research operations last week.

“We are pleased, relieved, and preparing to move forward with our survey for this year,” said Susan Gardner, acting deputy director of NOAA Fisheries’ Northeast Fisheries Science Center, which owns the instrument, a habitat mapping camera also known as the HabCam. The instrument appears to have sustained minimal damage to its exterior. Scientists are testing it today to determine if it is fit for duty.

The annual NEFSC Atlantic sea scallop/benthic survey collects a variety of information used to understand the sea scallop population as well as habitat on the ocean bottom off the Northeastern U.S. It uses a dredge and the HabCam, and multiple sensors and other instruments aboard the ship for data collection.

The event occurred on May 20 as the R/V Hugh R. Sharp was underway, towing the HabCam. About 85 miles southeast of the entrance to Delaware Bay in 80 meters of water, the HabCam separated from the tow cable and the vessel. The surveying was occurring around a known wreck, that of the Bow Mariner, and it appears likely the tow cable snagged on it, releasing the HabCam.

The crew and scientific complement immediately started calculating positions of the ship and the instrument in order to raise the likelihood of relocating it. They then returned to port in Lewes, Delaware and began to organize a recovery effort.

Colleagues at the University of Connecticut’s National Underwater Research, Technology, and Education Center were able to mobilize their remotely operated scientific instrument, the Kraken2, to assist with the recovery. Unlike the HabCam, Kraken2 has forward-looking cameras. It also has an articulating arm used to collect samples, but in this case, it was used to attach the HabCam to a recovery cable.

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