Ocean Networks Canada’s (ONC) extensive archive of deep-sea video imagery, time-series data sets, and live underwater video cameras from sites in the northeast Pacific and Arctic oceans were on full display from 13-16 May at the fourth World Conference on Marine Biodiversity (WCMB) in Montreal.
“Effective ocean management requires knowledge of the diversity, distribution, and abundance of marine life in the ocean—from microbes to zooplankton to fish,” says ONC chief scientist Kim Juniper, who was co-chair of the WCMB organizing committee and a member of the conference’s science committee. “This information, as well as knowledge about species interactions, improves our understanding of ocean health and ecosystems both in the water column and on the seafloor, and how the system responds to change.”
At WCMB, ONC metadata specialist Chris Adams and ONC staff scientist Fabio De Leo presented research posters, communicated science, and performed data demonstrations from more than 350 remotely operated vehicle (ROV) dive videos filmed over the past 12 years. ONC staff also showcased ONC biodiversity video highlights and Oceans 2.0 data plots on large monitors at ONC’s popular booth on the conference floor.
The second edition of ONC’s Marine Life Field Guide provided a quick visual reference of newly discovered and/or little-known deep-sea creatures from the northeast Pacific for conference attendees. Species featured in the updated guide—Including 43 additional species—range from the flapjack octopus and the bloody-belly comb jellies to delicate sea spiders in hydrothermal vents and otherworldly sea cucumbers on the seafloor.
Many of the conversations that ONC staff had with researchers at WCMB were about the challenge of collecting and sharing data in a standardized way to respond to global ocean issues.
Following the conference both Juniper and Adams attended a workshop to discuss the current state and future direction of the Marine Biodiversity Observing Network, and met with members of other data repositories and global research efforts to discuss some of the challenges and opportunities of serving data to researchers, policy makers, and other potential users.
Adams’s poster focused on maximizing the value of deep-sea video data as an essential part of marine research by providing a rare look at deep-sea communities. All ONC video data is freely available through ONC’s open access SeaTube video archives, and is also correlated to environmental data collected by the ROVs.
De Leo presented research on investigating deep-sea biodiversity from ROV video imagery. Long-term video monitoring from ONC’s cabled observatories enables scientists to study biological communities and benthic habitats, information important for biodiversity conservation and sustainable ocean management.
WCMB is the major focal assembly for leading specialists from around the world to share research outcomes, respond to management and policy issues, and discuss the role of biodiversity in sustaining ocean ecosystems. Previous WCMB meetings have been held in Spain, Scotland, and China.