SkiMonkey and SpiderMonkey – seven years of gathering benthic imagery from the deep

It was February seven years ago that the Sea Technology Services designed and manufactured SkiMonkey took to the freezing waters of the South Shetland Islands in Antarctica for the first time, to send back high resolution videos and still photographs of the seabed and benthic life, for the NOAA researchers of the United States’ Antarctic Marine Living Resouces (AMLR) program.

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Although the original SkiMonkey Benthic Camera System was developed by Sea Technology Services for the identification of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VME's) in Antarctica, the design has been used for systems that operate around Marion Island and the Southern African coastline.

To mark the seven year anniversiary of the SkiMonkey fleet successfully collecting benthic imagery, Sea Technology Services delivered a new SkiMonkey ski frame to the Department Of Environment Affairs (DEA) to convert their existing SpiderMonkey dropped camera system to a SkiMonkey towed benthic camera system.coral04032016

 

February 2016 also saw both SkiMonkey II (DEA) and SkiMonkey III (SAEON) simultaneously at sea, collecting benthic data. 

Both systems were serviced during January and additional features were added to further enhance the quality of their photography, and the pinpoint alignment of the three onboard lasers for SAEON’s new automated image processing software. A new Sea-Bird SBE 63 optical dissolved oxygen sensor was also added to the Sea-Bird CTD carried aboard SkiMonkey II.benth04032016

 

 

 

We at Sea Technology Services wish NOAA, DEA and SAEON all the best for the next seven years of deep seabed monitoring with their SkiMonkey systems!

SkiMonkey is able to capture HD video footage with overlaid high definition still photographs at depths down to 1000m, with the ability to send real-time video, oceanographic and control information up a standard copper cored conductor towing cable. This unique communication feature allows SkiMonkey to be used on any ship with a standard conductor cored towing cable and does not specifically necessitate expensive optical cables and winches.

  

SkiMonkey’s high quality photographs and video can be attributed to:

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  • The stability of the touch-and-go stainless steel seabed landing skis, even in rough weather
  • The ability to ski across the seabed for continual video recording along the ship’s track
  • Full user control of all camera functions from the surface
  • Ultra-fast wide angle camera lens behind an optically matched pressure dome
  • Real-time, through-the-lens video feedback to the surface
  • Continuous surface control of LED lighting and intelligent flashes
  • Surface readings of altimeter, depth, pitch, roll and heading for close proximity seabed flying
  • A three-laser ranging and measuring system for piloting and photography perspective.

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SkiMonkey also has the ability to send data to the surface from a Sea-Bird CTD system. 

Read more about SkiMonkey here:
http://www.uct.ac.za/mondaypaper/?id=9800
http://www.saeon.ac.za/enewsletter/archives/2014/april2014/doc02/?searchterm=skimonkey
http://www.saeon.ac.za/front-page/?searchterm=camera%20system
http://www.saeon.ac.za/enewsletter/archives/2014/october2014/doc04/?searchterm=skimonkey
http://www.saeon.ac.za/enewsletter/archives/2015/april2015/doc04/?searchterm=skimonkey
http://www.saeon.ac.za/enewsletter/archives/2013/june2013/doc03/?searchterm=skimonkey
http://www.saeon.ac.za/2015-benthic-trawl-experiment-research-cruise/?searchterm=skimonkey