After having a successful trial of the bio-fluorescence sensor package for the ROV, we made some adjustments to the payload. We improved the balance and the lights and did three 50 meter zig-zag night transects into the patch reefs, and found a lot of fluorescence! The system and collaboration with Guy Trimy/PML has worked out just as planned!
The next step was to work on ways of minimizing interference from the ROV main lights. We covered the main lights with blue filter paper, and added yellow to the main camera, in attempt to see the fluorescence with the main camera, in order to navigate toward the fluorescent corals.
In addition to just proving we could find fluorescent corals, we set out to identify which specific species fluoresce. We sought out, marked, and characterized 8 sites during the day light, and then sent out our further modified ROV at night. Unfortunately we were met with a heavy tide, and the darkened main lights proved to make navigation to the sites nearly impossible. We removed the yellow filter from the main camera, but it was not good enough to properly navigate.
Unfortunately time was running short, and we had a lot of work to do. The equipment arrived late, broken, and the weather had taken a turn for the worse, making progress difficult. The next day the team split up, half went go to the Aitutaki lagoon via boat to do surveys of the reef, and the other worked on mapping until the evening. At dusk, the team reunited and marked the coral sites with glow sticks, and had a successful night dive!