Damage to Neptune underwater observatory viewed by experts

Posted: 07/21/2011 in all marine news

Sandra McCulloch –

Scientists and engineers have had their first look at a damaged section of Neptune, the world’s first regional underwater ocean observatory network, off Vancouver Island.

A team left Esquimalt on July 4 aboard the research vessel Thomas G Thompson for a three-week voyage to carry out maintenance and check damage inflicted in February when a trawler dragged its gear across the scientific equipment. They got a view of the damage on Tuesday.

Neptune Canada, an initiative led by the University of Victoria, features a series of ocean observation systems that can be monitored in real time over the Internet. It began operating in December 2009. Neptune stands for the NorthEast Pacific Time-Series Undersea Networked Experiments project.

“Getting out on the open ocean is significantly weather dependent — this is our first opportunity to be there,” Martin Taylor, president of Ocean Networks Canada, said Thursday. The damaged area is about 100 kilometers offshore in a location known as the Barkley Upper Slope.

Images shot by a submersible vehicle brought some relief, but did not answer all of the team’s questions. The good news is the equipment is still there and appears in good condition, said Taylor. The extent of repairs or whether some needs replacing will not be clear until the equipment is brought to the surface, which is expected to happen over the next few days.

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