Transcript for Oceanfloor Legacy, segment 11 of 14


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While the cores provide minute details on specific science, the scientists use an underwater camera system to record surface compositions and biological activity over wide areas.

The camera sled takes both stills and video pictures. The video comes off the V. C. R., and we feed power to a camera and lights, and the video stays on. Once we program it to turn on, it stays on for four to five hours. The stills are programmed to shoot off every ten or whatever interval you choose them to shoot, and every time you see a flash on the video, that's when a still is being taken, and we run the system at three to eight meters off bottom trying to maintain an even height for best video coverage and maintain about one-and-a-half knot speed over bottom, and that's pretty much it. It's self-operating once you lower it over the side. It turns on and off, and you bring it up, and you see what you have.

The first camera run in the southern part of the area records these images of the sea floor. The pictures verify the scientists' interpretations of the mosaic, showing a flat, gentle slope covered with sediment. Organisms such as sea cucumbers, starfish, and flounder occur in patches along the run.

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The scientists have carefully planned this camera run to cross an area where some of the targets dot the sonar mosaic. If these targets turn out to be the radioactive waste drums, the scientists' interpretation of the mosaic will again be validated. The mosaics can then be used as a guide for locating the drums in the future.

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An altimeter on the camera sled serves as Hank's eyes, permitting him to pay out and pull in the winch line to keep the camera sled just above the ocean bottom. Collecting information about the sea floor from a vessel a mile above is a complicated task. Weather and equipment don't always cooperate. Two earlier sampling launches were foiled, the first by a malfunctioning video recorder and the second by a snapped winch cable.

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