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Weird and wonderful images from B.C.'s seafloor observatory

Posted by in Wildlife on Monday, February 8, 2016

A male spotted ratfish. (Photo: Ocean Networks Canada)

It's often said that we have better maps of the moon's surface than we do of the ocean floor. But the VENUS Seafloor Observatory in British Columbia’s Salish Sea, which celebrates its 10th anniversary on Feb. 8, is trying to change that.

Short for Victoria Experimental Network Under the Sea, VENUS collects oceanographic data on physical, chemical, biological and sediment conditions in Saanich Inlet and in the Strait of Georgia. Run by the University of Victoria’s Ocean Networks Canada, VENUS was the world’s first interactive realtime portal into the ocean. It has 40 kilometres of cables and dozens of sensors that continuously transmit ocean data including temperature, salinity, pH, tides, seismic activity and noise levels to the surface for scientific study.

In honour of VENUS’s milestone, here are ten cool images and videos it has captured in its decade of operation.

1. Octopus on the hunt
A juvenile giant Pacific octopus is caught on webcam pouncing on a tanner crab.

2. Drunken starfish
As eerie evidence of the impact of human trash in the marine environment, a sand star is photographed alongside an empty beer bottle.

(Photo: Ocean Networks Canada)

3. The ravages of the sea
A hydrophone as it’s deployed (left); another Venus devise after six months at the bottom (right).

(Photo: Ocean Networks Canada)

4. Crabby creatures
A dungeness crab dismembers a squat lobster.

(Photo: Ocean Networks Canada)

5. Red Octopus
An east Pacific red octopus. It can change colour from a deep brick red to white.

(Photo: Ocean Networks Canada)

6. Spotted ratfish
A male spotted ratfish. The white spot on the forehad is a frontal tentaculum or cephalic clasper, club-shaped organ with calcified hooks used to grasp females when mating.

(Photo: Ocean Networks Canada)

7. Disappearing flatfish
A flatfish disappears into the seafloor.

8. Impressive tentacles
A large octopus attempts to capture a prawn drawn to pick at the bones of the skeleton of a pig in a cage, part of forensic research project.

9. Shark attack?
A six-gill shark investigates the dead pigs that are part of a forensic research project. The shark later attacked the uncaged pig.

10. The crab and the prawn
A Dungeness crab stretches out a front leg above a spot prawn.

(Photo: Ocean Networks Canada)

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