Spanish and Argentine scientists have begun a joint research cruise in the South-western Atlantic on board the Spanish government fisheries support vessel Miguel Oliver which is scheduled to extend until December 20.
The survey aims to pinpoint vulnerable ecosystems outside the Argentine EEZ 200 miles borderline to an isobath of 1,500 metres. Sea bed mapping below 200 metres and an isobath of 130 meters will have priority as well as a scientific description of those marine environments, which can operate at 600 metres depth.
The research is to be supported with a special Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) equipped with video and photo instruments and designed to manoeuvre at depths of 600 metres.
"Among the novelties featured in the survey, we plan to shoot video and still images at priority points that will complement direct method research undertaken with remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) and vertical photographic cameras," reads the MARM press release.
The submarine inspection robot is designed to manoeuvre in depths up to 600 metres. It features a main camera with a 180º view, an auxiliary video camera, a manoeuvring or retractable arm, two 300- and 700-metre umbilical cables as well as radar and echo-sound equipment. It also possesses a long-range, metric, acoustic sub-aquatic-positioning system and auto-course and auto-depth devices, among others.
Spain's Oceanographic Institute (IEO) is responsible fro the operation with the support from Argentina National Institute for Fisheries Research and Development (INIDEP).
Miguel Oliver which belongs to Spain's Maritime Interests Office is 70 metres long, 12 wide and has six highly sophisticated laboratories for advanced fisheries research and other relevant tasks in marine geology, physics, chemistry and environmental sciences.
The research vessel has been involved in similar cruises along the Peruvian coast and this campaign in the South Atlantic is one of several began in 2007 and expected to conclude this year covering such diverse areas as marine geology, geophysics, benthos biology, ecology, physical oceanography fisheries and marine biology. In the previous five phases a total of 31.514 square kilometres have been covered according to Spain's Ministry of Environment and Rural and Maritime Affairs (MARM).
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