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Open AccessArticle

Cutting the Umbilical: New Technological Perspectives in Benthic Deep-Sea Research

Centre of Natural History—CeNak, Zoological Museum, University of Hamburg, Martin-Luther-King-Platz 3, 20146 Hamburg, Germany
Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, PO Box 120161, 27515 Bremerhaven, Germany
DFKI-RIC Bremen, Department of Underwater Robotics, Robert-Hooke-Straße 1, 28359 Bremen, Germany
Department of Genetics and Evolution, University of Geneva, Sciences 3, Quai Ernest Ansermet 30, CH-1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland
Department of Physics and Earth Sciences, Jacobs University, 28759 Bremen, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Magnus Wahlberg
J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2016, 4(2), 36;
Received: 5 March 2016 / Revised: 1 May 2016 / Accepted: 9 May 2016 / Published: 20 May 2016
Many countries are very active in marine research and operate their own research fleets. In this decade, a number of research vessels have been renewed and equipped with the most modern navigation systems and tools. However, much of the research gear used for biological sampling, especially in the deep-sea, is outdated and dependent on wired operations. The deployment of gear can be very time consuming and, thus, expensive. The present paper reviews wire-dependent, as well as autonomous research gear for biological sampling at the deep seafloor. We describe the requirements that new gear could fulfil, including the improvement of spatial and temporal sampling resolution, increased autonomy, more efficient sample conservation methodologies for morphological and molecular studies and the potential for extensive in situ real-time studies. We present applicable technologies from robotics research, which could be used to develop novel autonomous marine research gear, which may be deployed independently and/or simultaneously with traditional wired equipment. A variety of technological advancements make such ventures feasible and timely. In proportion to the running costs of modern research vessels, the development of such autonomous devices might be already paid off after a discrete number of pioneer expeditions. View Full-Text
Keywords: deep-sea; autonomous sampling devices; sampling efficiency; benthic research; wire times; robotics deep-sea; autonomous sampling devices; sampling efficiency; benthic research; wire times; robotics
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Brandt, A.; Gutt, J.; Hildebrandt, M.; Pawlowski, J.; Schwendner, J.; Soltwedel, T.; Thomsen, L. Cutting the Umbilical: New Technological Perspectives in Benthic Deep-Sea Research. J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2016, 4, 36.

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