Electronic guide offers rare glimpses of deep-sea life

Bloodybelly comb jellies, sea pigs, deep sea spiders—real images and video of these and over 125 other little-known inhabitants of the Pacific Ocean—can now be viewed on an iPad. NEPTUNE Canada’s recently published Marine Life Field Guide is a “living book,” explains NEPTUNE Canada Director Dr. Kate Moran. “Not only does it show animals in their deep-sea homes, it will also be updated to add new creatures, new images and new videos as we discover them.”

NEPTUNE Canada is the regional cabled undersea network of Ocean Networks Canada, an initiative of the University of Victoria.
These rare glimpses of animals—some living over 2km below the surface—are captured on network cameras mounted on sea-floor observatory platforms or from video recorded during “dives” by remotely operated vehicles on NEPTUNE’s ocean expeditions off the coast of Vancouver Island.

The guide began more than seven months ago as a vision to develop a common and scientifically valid language for quick and more accurate identification of marine life by the science team annotating the dives. “We couldn’t find a bible for deep sea species,” recalls Francoise Gervais, the guide’s project manager, “so we began our own reference, creating a baseline for the creatures we observe in the deep wilderness.”

Starting out as a print catalogue and evolving with the help of 20 experts around the world, the guide became electronic to incorporate beautiful video sequences and allow for future updating. “Of course, identification by imagery will always be limited,” adds Gervais, “but it is a beginning, and it shares our magnificent deep-sea biodiversity with the rest of the world.”

The Marine Life Field Guide is available at the iBook store for free and as a PDF on the NEPTUNE Canada website at neptunecanada.ca/FieldGuide.

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Keywords: NEPTUNE Canada, oceans

People: Kate Moran

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