It is always a pleasure for PARALENZ to be part of research expeditions, science explorations and of course, organizations that have the aim to clean and make a better future for our big blue. The Hecataeus Dive Project is part of that segment. As the purpose of the team is to research and gather data about the Hecataeus seamount, located in the marine territory of Cyprus.
Drop Camera System
BB2 derives its name due to the looks of the drop camera system resembling a bumble bee. 2, because we had to build two versions.
It is a simple drop cam system to get the first images from the peak of the Hecataeus Seamount. It consists of a protective metal housing build with the purpose to make it snag proof and shark proof.
The wings are to stabilize it in the current and prevent rotation. Inside it has 3 light sources and 2 Paralenz cameras and a dive computer in gauge mode. It is custom made and operated by hand. The original construction was under the supervision of engineer “Lucky” (dog).
We made several tests which included also the adjustment of a reference bar in front of the cameras. The visit to use it on the Hecataeus Seamount is planned within the next week.
During the initial site verification on the peak of the Hecataeus Seamount, we deployed an ROV which is sponsored by Brasal Marine. Just before reaching the bottom an abundance of sharks were observed via the camera feed.
In a short time, the number of sharks increased and also their aggression. This lead to the loss of ROV power and signal and the ROV had to be recovered by hand.
This observation indicates the abundance of marine life forms at the Hecataeus Seamount considering sharks being on top of the natural food chain.
The soon to be deployed drop cam system hopefully will provide such evidence. The video and photo capture of the sharks are the first visually recorded proof of life forms on the Hecataeus Seamount.
The sharks were attracted by the lights and electric current and motor noise of the ROV engines and the sharks showed aggressive behavior towards the ROV. To minimize the possible puncture of hoses of the life support system by sharks all hoses and cables of the dive equipment were covered in a flexible metal tubing.
WET Tests 1-4
During the configuration and development of the life support system, each individual piece was tested and trialed. This was then followed by a set of 5 wet tests where components of the completed equipment configuration were tested as a whole in different scenarios.
This will be followed by the next phase during dive training which is planned to be about 30 dives over a period of 3 months and possibly more.
The wet tests also included a trial of the dive basket and LARS system (launch and recovery ops), downline system operations, vessel and team ops, media ops, bailout and emergency drills.
Further, under the wet test series the assembly, pre-dive tests, checks, etc… were incorporated and under scrutiny including the post-dive SURMIX breathing systems. The set-up, pre-dive checks, and dressing take about 2-3 hours.
On the side, operations of vessel, navigation, emergency preps, dive decompression chamber preps and ROV ops are tested.
WET Test 5
After the 5th test, this is what Axel had to say.
“For this test, some exercises were done for the OC bailout (2x20L) with the full face mask system, during a short dive. Additional tests were made with loss of inflation for buoyancy (no wings or dry suit), exposure to reasonable cold (19C minimum) seawater using a 3mm wetsuit, the Paralenz Dive Camera, and the standard bottom task.
For safety, there was a chamber on site, an ROV, Lee Evans as surface supplied shallow water diver with comms and hat cam and “C” was the deepwater safety diver (who needed to be “rescued”).
The dive was run by cdm18 tables (thanks to Stephen E Burton to ensure they were correct) and a perdix as the backup. The bottom time was 10min. With planned 5min as the actual bottom time for the tasks. The two deco stops at -10m and -6m were doubled on the fly in-water. At the surface on deck SURMIX EAN50 was used for 30min to minimize the possibility of ICD. All went very smooth and according to plan with no problems with the equipment.
Buoyancy and water temperature was not too big of an issue. The underwater tasks on the bottom were completed in less than 5min. At deco, there was a little panic going on as we nearly lost the Paralenz Dive Camera but a “Spiderman” performance rescued the situation.
The Paralenz Dive Camera worked really well and gave us some great crystal 4K footage. It was set on automatic white balance. Of course, the “commercial” shallow water safety diver (Lee Evans) had to spoil the video footage due to foul language and broken and messed up fins and gloves because he is too stingy to invest in decent dive gear.
Special thanks to Liam Meyer for tending and to Sammy who makes the best coffee and all the crew who joined in to make it a good dive. The dive supervisor and ROV pilot were ok. – just – (better not to mention the name Eduardo Branco). Also, thanks to Margin Films for doing awesome animation for the film works.
Below you can watch the full video of the dive, best viewed in HD and with sound on!
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