The cameras that capture fragile deep-sea jellies in their element

In an expedition to the Schmidt Ocean Institute off the coast of San Diego in August 2021, MBARI sent a pair of instruments વિશિષ્ટ along with a specialized DNA sampling device શોધ to search for water hundreds of meters deep. Researchers used the camera to scan at least two anonymous creatures, a new cenophore and a siphonophore.

Successful scans reinforce the case for virtual holotypes – digital rather than physical, specimens that can serve as a basis for species definition when collection is not possible. Historically, the holotype of a species is a physical specimen that has been carefully captured, preserved, and listed – anglerfish floating in a jar of formaldehyde, ferns pressed in a Victorian book, or pinned to the wall of a natural history museum. Future researchers can learn from this and compare them with other models.

Proponents say that virtual holotypes, such as 3D models, are our best opportunity to document the diversity of marine life, some of which are on the verge of disappearing forever. Without a description of the species, scientists cannot observe the population, identify potential hazards, or push for conservation measures.

“The ocean is changing rapidly: rising temperatures, declining oxygen, acidification,” says Alan Collins, a jelly expert with dual appointments at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. “There are still hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of species to be named, and we can’t afford to wait.”

Jelly in four dimensions

Marine scientists who do research on gelatinous midwater creatures have horrific stories of potential new species disappearing before their eyes. Collins recalls trying to photograph the ketanophores in the wet laboratory of a NOAA research ship off the coast of Florida: “In a few minutes, due to temperature or light or pressure, they just began to separate,” he says. “His bits just started coming in. It was a horrible experience.”

The bioengineers in MBARI and the driving force behind DeepPIV and EyeRIS were not ready to solve the headache of uncle Katija, the midwater collector. “DeepPIV was developed to look at fluid physics,” she explains. In the early 2010’s, Katija and his team were The study of how marine sponges filter-feed and how to track the movement of water by recording the three-dimensional position of suspended minute particles was needed.

They later realized that the system could also be used to scan non-invasive gelatinous animals. Using a powerful laser mounted on a remotely operated vehicle, DeepPIV illuminates one cross-section of the animal’s body at a time. “All we get is a video, and each video frame ends up as one of the images in our stack,” says Just Daniels, an engineer at Katija’s lab who is working to refine DeepPIV. “And once you have a stock of images, it’s not much different from how people would analyze a CT or MRI scan.”

Ultimately, DeepPIV produces a static 3D model પરંતુ but marine biologists were eager to see mid-water creatures in motion. So Katija, MBARI engineer Paul Roberts and other members of the team created a light-field camera system called EyeRIS that detects not only the intensity of the scene but also the exact direction of the light. The microlens between the camera lens and the image sensor breaks the array field into multiple views, such as the multi-part vision of a housefly.

Raw, unprocessed images from EyeRIS look like what happens when you take off your 3D glasses during a movie – multiple offset versions of the same object. But once sorted by depth, the footage is resolved into delicately rendered three-dimensional video, allowing researchers to observe behaviors and fine-scale locomotive movements (experts in jelly jet propulsion).

What is the cost of the picture?

For decades, researchers have occasionally tried to describe a new species without a traditional holotype at hand – a South African bee fly using only high-definition photos, secret owls with photos and call recordings. Doing so could anger some scientists: for example, in 2016, hundreds of researchers signed a letter defending the sanctity of the traditional holotype.

But in 2017, the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature – the governing body that publishes the code of how species should be described – issued a clarification of its rules, saying New species can be represented without physical holotype in circumstances where collection is not possible.

In 2020, a team of scientists, including Collins, described a new genus and species of comb jelly based on a high-definition video. ,Duobrachium sparkisi, As it was named, it looks somewhat like a translucent Thanksgiving turkey, with streamers trailing through its drumsticks.

Collins says the MBARI team’s visualization techniques only reinforce the case for digital holotypes, as they provide a closer look at detailed anatomical studies conducted by scientists on physical specimens.

A parallel movement to digitize current physical holotypes is also gaining steam. Karen Osborne is a midwater invertebrate researcher and curator at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, an animal that is more remarkable and easy to collect than midwater jelly એની annelids and paracarids. The epidemic underlines the usefulness of high-fidelity digital holotypes, Osborne says. Numerous field expeditions have been disrupted by travel restrictions, and Enlid and paracarid researchers have been unable to “go in”. [to the lab] And look at any samples, “she explains, so they can’t describe any of the physical types right now. But studies through digital collections are booming.

Using a micro-CT scanner, Smithsonian scientists have given researchers around the world access to holotype samples in the form of “3D reconstruction in minute detail.” When she receives a sample request – which usually involves mailing invaluable holotypes, with the risk of loss or damage – Osborne says she offers to send the first virtual version. Although most researchers are skeptical at first, “without fail, they always get back to us.” Yes, I do not need a sample. I’ve got all the information I need. ‘

“IRIS and DPPIV give us a way to document things in a situation that is much cooler,” Osborne adds. During research expeditions, she has seen systems work on giant larvae, small invertebrates whose secretions could not be studied completely intact until the complex “snot palace” DPPIV of mucus scientists.

Katija says the MBARI team is considering ways to gamify race descriptions along Foldit’s lines, a popular civic science project in which “players” use video-game-like platforms to determine the structure of proteins.

In the same spirit, civil scientists can help analyze images and scans taken by ROV. “People in Pokemon Go roamed their neighborhoods in search of counterfeit goods,” says Katija. “Can we use that energy and find people things that science doesn’t know?”

Elizabeth Ann Brown is a science journalist based in Copenhagen, Denmark.

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