New Scientist TV posted a new video explaining how an underwater laser imaging device makes it possible to study jellyfish in their natural environment.
SCUVA was developed by Dr. Kakani Katija Young and Dr. John Dabiri to study the effect of jellyfish and other organisms on ocean mixing. The technique was published in the October issue of JoVE and can be found here.
A night dive isn’t usually ideal for spotting marine life, unless you’re using a new underwater laser imaging device. The SCUVA system shown in this video, developed by bioengineers Kakani Katija of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Falmouth, Massachusetts and John Dabiri from the California Institute of Technology, works best in darkness. In this clip, it’s being used to visualise the wake produced by jellyfish.
The device was developed by adapting technology used in the lab for open waters. After finding a good subject, a diver observes exhaled bubbles to determine the overall current. Suspended particles are then illuminated by a laser, so that a high-definition camera can capture how they move. Later, a computer programme uses the video to track the particle motion and deduce the flow around the animal.
The system is allowing researchers to better investigate marine animal behaviour, as well as their natural environment. Collaborator Sean Colin of Roger Williams University is currently using the device to study how invasive comb jellyfish use a delicate feeding current to sneak up on prey. The unique camera could also be used to help determine the effect of migrating sea organisms on ocean mixing.
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