The Paralenz Dive Camera was designed for the use of divers in general, whether they are recreational divers or professional divers. Little did we know, the camera will be put to extreme tests and used for some incredible scientific research.

One of the most important projects the Paralenz Dive Camera is used for is the research around a not so known seamount, Hecataeus.

A while back, Axel Schoeller contacted us, and when we heard what the project is about, we didn’t hesitate and delivered the cameras he needed. All in all, this is what the camera was used for.

The story behind the project

The Hecataeus Dive Project is the first scientific manned dive expedition to the peak of the Hecataeus seamount to collect video, photo, oceanographic and marine biology samples.

Seamounts are very important marine habitats but are very little research on them is made. Cyprus has two seamounts in its marine territory. “Eratosthenes” offshore Paphos and “Hecataeus” between Limassol and Larnaca.

Seamounts are formed by the movement of tectonic plates, which can result in a vertical difference of the seafloor and/or by volcanic activity. Eratosthenes is a volcanic seamount and Hecataeus is formed by an underwater ridge.

One of the classifications for seamounts is the minimum height of 1000 meters from the surrounding sea floor. Seamounts are a hub of marine life. This is due to the altered movement of currents and the rapid vertical rise of the mountain compared to the flat adjoining sea floor.

Current at a seamount is uplifted and creates a vortex at the top. In the center of the vortex, the flow is downward. These currents increase the concentration of nutrients combined with differences in temperature and depth. Those result in an intensified enrichment of marine life.

Seamounts support different species than the surrounding abyssal plains, and some chains of seamounts have species not found anywhere else. Seamount populations may evolve in isolation from similar populations at distant seamounts, but since so few seamounts have been sampled, more exploration of seamounts would likely bring much unknown into the realm of the known.

Mostly their distance from land makes scientific expeditions difficult, but recognizing them as a frontier rarely explored and as a laboratory for understanding ecosystems scarcely altered by humans, there is plenty of scientific interest. Seamounts differ in depth below the surface and height above the seabed, isolation, and age.

Flat-topped seamounts, known as guyots, accumulate sediments, but steep sides expose bedrock and coarser sediments. Currents, oxygen and chemistry, light, temperature, substratum, and productivity also influence seamount biota. However, when the census of marine life was completed, only 250 seamounts globally were sampled enough to say much about their species or to draw broad conclusions on diversity and endemism.

 

The planned research

At present nothing is known of the marine ecosystem on the Hecataeus seamount. It is expected that fishing is intensive at the Hecataeus seamount with its usual negative disturbance of the marine ecosystem by destruction and pollution. The Hecataeus Dive Project is the first visit to the Hecataeus seamount peak.

The goals of the project are:

  • -to collect and research biometric and diver vitals;
  • -to promote safe scientific diving practices;
  • -to encourage the formation of scientific diving in Cyprus based on European standards of HSE and diving at work regulations;
  • -to collect marine biological video and photo records through the water column and on the peak of the Hecataeus Knoll;
  • -to collect shallow (500mm max.) seafloor surface sediment samples to research possible micro organics;
  • -to collect oceanographic and geological information (temperature, salinity, turbidity, chlorophyll, oxygen);
  • -to obtain information about possible environmental pollution on the site of the Hecataeus Knoll (plastics or refuse);
  • -to stimulate public interest and engage the public in marine science by transmission of the dive live via ROV and satellite to public media;
  • -to produce a broadcast quality film documentary to promote public interest in marine science;
  • -to promote academic, commercial and private Cypriot involvement in marine science;
  • -to research and study the collected scientific data by recognized authorities and academia;
  • -to publicize the findings of the research in different forms of media by recognized authorities and academia.

For the last twelve (12) months we have prepared, organized and tested the logistics and equipment for this dive (primarily in Cyprus and for some specific reasons also in Canada, Thailand, and Germany).

The project participants

It involves the help, support, and expertise from individuals and organizations from Canada, USA, UK, Thailand, Germany, Denmark, France, and Cyprus. Notably from the Oceanography Center – the University of Cyprus, the Department of Geological Survey, Cyprus and Oceanography Section of the University of Hamburg, Germany.

We are now at the point of starting acclimatizing dive training, which is planned for an approximate time span of about three months. Upon satisfying completion of this training, we hope to execute the visit to the peak of the Hecataeus Knoll this year. For reasons of safety, there is no fixed date for latter mentioned execution.

Besides that, to start this next phase certain logistics and preparations are ongoing.

 

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