DOER Marine

Aug 2016

Alameda CA

For Immediate Release: Deep Sea Bioluminescent Corals captured in color HD video for first time using Canon ME20F-SH 4M iso camera. 

DOER Marine collaborated with Canon USA to successfully capture the first color HD video of deep ocean bioluminescence in Hawaiian Bamboo Corals that faithfully shows the behaviors that heretofore have only been conveyed by written and oral histories.  In 1979 Dr. Sylvia Earle made a record setting dive to 1250 feet off the coast of Oahu in Hawaii in the JIM suit.  She described the bamboo corals, saying  “ when I touched them, rings of light pulsed up and down between base and tip”. Pisces submersible Pilots Terry Kerby and Max Cremer along with  deep water coral scientist Frank Parrish have all directly observed this phenomenon but have never been able to capture it. Even with advanced silicone intensified low light cameras, images were gray and indistinct.  DOER president Liz Taylor and Subsea Technologist Ian Griffith saw the Canon ME20F-SH camera at a trade show in 2015. They immediately saw the potential it had for capturing insitu bioluminescence.  DOER had already built the first ABS classed underwater camera housings for Cine cameras/lenses and believed the ME20F-SH could utilize the same housings.  Calvin Anderson and Carl Peer from Canon USA worked to make a unit available to DOER for evaluation and testing.  

In July 2016, Dr. Sylvia Earle received a grant from the National Geographic Society to return to the same deep water coral beds she visited in 1979 for comparative observations of deep water biota.  An obvious opportunity presented itself to test and prove the value of the ME20F-SH.  On the first dive the camera was operated by a high school biology intern.  He captured images of the corals pulsing light exactly as Dr. Earle had described.  On the second dive a University of LaVerne photography student operated the camera and captured images both from Pisces IV and images of Pisces V stimulating the corals.

The story of capturing the images will be featured in a documentary special called Blue Centennial which follows the National Geographic Blue Centennial Expeditions with young explorers using photography to reveal the unseen American wilderness below the ocean surface. 

This camera has the capacity to capture never before seen images and is capable of being operated both by those with a science background and experienced photographers alike. Dr. Parrish accompanied both students on their respective dives in Pisces IV while Dr. Earle was in Pisces V.  Having both experts there to witness and participate in this remarkable first has left them eager to see what the ME20F-SH can do when fitted into the ABS classed housings.  DOER continues to work with the ME20F-SH in its test tank, experimenting with a variety of lenses, recording devices and camera ports to unlock the full potential that this camera holds for subsea science and exploration.  

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Deep Ocean Exploration and Research | Subsea Robotics & Submersible Systems