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Research institute will use submersible for studies

Research institute will use submersible for studies

The so-called submersible drone, acquired by the Institute of Science of the University of Francisco Gavidia in El Salvador, will favor the development of new investigations into the coastal ecosystem and the identification of new species

Marine biologists and ecologists at the Institute of Science, Technology and Innovation (ICTI) of the University of Francisco Gavidia (UFG), who conduct various research in fresh and coastal waters in El Salvador, have a new instrument: the SUBMARINE ROV “Chasing M22”.

The first part of the name, ROV, stands for remotely operated vehicle.
This professional remote operated submersible vehicle allows you to take underwater videos and photos, and collect samples for oceanographic and coastal investigations; Also to carry out inspections and submarine rescue missions.

Dr. Oscar Picardo, Director of ICTI, stated that SUBMARINE ROV was purchased more than a month ago, in Spain, from a Spanish supplier, motivated by the good results of investigations by two specialists, marine biologist Dr. Jose Enrique Barraza and marine ecologist Joanna Segovia; And interest in continuing to make more contributions in this field.

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The team, working under the auspices of the ICTI-UFG Center for Research in Marine Science and Linmonology-CIMARYL, has a 4K ultra-high-definition camera, that is, four times higher image quality by pixel than current HDTVs. (High Definition, for its English acronym).

The submarine also has a stabilizer, that is, equipment that prevents images from being out of focus as a result of movement; It also has eight multi-directional motors that allow the robot to move horizontally, vertically and angularly, as a result of which it can be taken wherever you want and gives advantages for its industrial and scientific use.

Other advantages that the ROV offers marine biologists are the robotic arm with which they will be able to extract samples, to which another GoPro camera, external LED lights and a laser scaler that is nothing more and nothing less than another accessory that allows you to measure volumes and distances underwater has been added.

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Marine biologist Jose Enrique Barraza during a training session on handling a submarine. Photo EDH / Courtesy

According to Picardo Joao, the Foundation has invested nearly $8,000 in this submersible vehicle that will be used for research and which could be the only one in the country’s universities. This amount includes the cost of the device, accessories, and shipping taxes.

“At the university level, I think we are the only ones with this equipment, and at the regional level, the supplier has told us that they have never sold a team in these parts, with these characteristics, or to companies. At least they have not sold the brand of this plant here in Central America, not even in Costa Rica”.

Picardo confirms that ROV. which also contains sensors, “allows a new search because it has the ability to dive up to 100 metres, things that even divers cannot reach that depth; and it will, in the case of the search for black coral, conducted by Joanna Segovia, locate other places” These corals or other types of corals may be present in them.”

As detailed, the machine weighs approximately 10 to 15 kg (22 to 33 lb) and has eight motors.
The researcher also emphasized that at the moment they are at the stage of training biologists and other workers of CIMARYL, at first they do it in the facilities of the French high school, thanks to the fact that the authorities of the special educational center loaned them a semi-olympic swimming pool.

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“Until the equipment is well mastered in the pool, it is not recommended to put it in the sea, and maybe in August we will actually do some basic tests at sea,” he added.

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As he commented, biologists are very happy, considering that this type of drone allows them to get high-quality photos and videos, even with good statistics, because it records the angle and depth at which the images are taken.

Piccardo stated that the UFG authorities have supported them in every way to take this big step, and now comes the challenge of planning new research projects that enrich the knowledge of our resources.

“We have to sit down, because now they are working on their own projects: the SigmaQ-backed lobster project, a Batitas project on all types of crabs in the country; Dr. Baraza is also continuing his projects in marine biology,” he said.

Dr. Enrique Barraza, a Research Associate at ICTI, stated that “With the acquisition of CHASING M2, we are very excited and satisfied to own a new tool that will allow us to advance knowledge of marine and continental aquatic biodiversity in the country’s biodiversity.”

Barraza also noted that this progress means a major commitment to continue researching water resources in El Salvador and opens more doors to be able to conduct joint studies with other institutions of similar interest.

The underwater drone will allow imaging in areas that humans cannot reach, as well as sampling with a mechanical clamp that can be handled from the surface. It is modern equipment and will allow us to update our knowledge of aquatic biodiversity.”

In his opinion, the step taken by the enterprise to purchase such equipment favors not only their work, but also the whole country, where they can advance the investigation of species with a depth of more than 30 meters.

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In this way, we achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals relating to life in the sea and on continental waters. He added that the information that is generated will be appropriately disclosed, including to the relevant authorities so that they have new information that facilitates the management of biological resources and other undiscovered depths.

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Ecologist Joanna Segovia agrees with Barraza that this technology will allow greater knowledge of the underwater environment to be generated in the territory, in addition to the fact that as an academic institution, this entails a clear commitment to “doing the science we need for the oceans we want.”

In the same way, it highlights that in addition to being a great support for scientists, it will also be for training young scientists.

Segovia believes that this opens the way for collaboration even with scientists from other countries.

“We have opened the door and we are very happy to start this new phase of marine sciences in El Salvador,” he said.

Segovia’s words emphasize that this will allow researchers to position themselves on the topic of marine science and with the audiovisual input being generated, they will be able to raise awareness about the importance of these resources, generating ocean culture: “Citizens will be able to get close to marine ecosystems and observe their potential and richness. thus strengthening the protection of our sea and coast.

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