Monkeying around the ocean's depths

Ski-Monkey benthic camera system
South Africa (Cape Town)

Commercial trawling of the area just above the ocean floor, known as the benthic zone, is one of the biggest man-made disruptions to seabed ecology. Several international initiatives are striving towards gaining a better understanding of how these ecosystem are being affected, studying different habitats subjected to various types of fishing pressure.

The Ski-Monkey was originally developed in Cape Town for use in the US Antarctic Marine Living Resources Program, which studies the effects of commercial fishing on the Antarctic marine ecosystem. Most recently, they have been used in the Sub Antarctic.

This hardy, compact camera is helping us understand, and hopefully preserve, the complex Antarctic ecosystem. It takes HD photographs and video at impressive depths of up to 800 metres (2,625ft). It relays this media, and environmental information, in real time to a surface base camp, from which the camera is controlled by the Ski-Monkey software application. Agile as a monkey, it can be utilised as a standalone camera, drop camera with legs, or move along the seabed on skis.

Written by

Claire Gordon-Webster (28 July 2015)


Claire is London-residing British-South African actress and freelance writer for the Huffington Post and Ideas Tap magazine.

Project leader

André Hoek, Electronic & Software Engineer, Sea Technology Services

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