Most of what we know from ocean life derives from extractive sampling using nets, bottles, grabs, cores or trawls. While providing valuable material, e.g. for biodiversity or experimental studies, these destructive methods fail to preserve the spatial structure and function characterizing living communities, where bottom trawls reduce underwater seascapes to piles of unsorted creatures on deck. Over the last decades, technological advancements have begun to shed a new and fascinating light on marine biology. Cabled instruments and observatories now allow to explore living communities in their natural environment in a non-destructive manner:
- Remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) equipped with cameras and sensor packages provide high-resolution images from the plankton and seabed communities in their dynamic surroundings,
- Eddy Covariance measurements allow the continuous and non-invasive determination of benthic fluxes of oxygen, particles and heat in the benthic boundary layer,
- sampling the seabed and the water column above with Multi Corers and Carousel Water Samplers is essential for the scientific work of the BPP section,
- Microsensor measurements offer insights into instantaneous physiological processes and help to understand possible mechanisms to cope with future climate conditions,
- Scientific diving allows for undisturbed observation, environmentally friendly sampling, targeted collection of measurement data and the performance of underwater experiments.
- Biologging units and satellite transmitters allow to study the marine environment from the perspective of marine mammals.
These tools are used and refined by BPP scientists engineers and technicians to understand the factors governing Antarctic communities in an era of climate change and to assess the role of Antarctic communities in geochemical cycling.