The following images came across my desk last week humorously labeled “There’s something wrong with the ROV”. The startling shots show what appears to be an unfortunate mako shark that has become entangled in the mechanics of a large ROV [remotely operated vehicle]
This led to a conversation with the other deeplings and some of my other connections looking for more info. As best I can determine, it’s legit, although it’s hard to be certain because the best reference I can find (from someone purporting to be the photographer himself) was an anonymous discussion board poster. The photos were apparently taken in a commercial context, at an oil platform off the coast of Angola in 2008 and, despite the remarkable animal involved, the damage to the ROV was restricted to some loose fittings and a punctured hose (no kidding!). Anyway, it got me and the other deeplings to talking about when marine life interacts with equipment, which is of course inevitable when we intrude into their world. A look at YouTube reveals some startling bits of footage, which I’ve gathered below for your viewing pleasure.
First, there’s this one (embedding disabled) showing a deepwater six-gilled shark “sleeping” on a well-head. He’s sort of just lazing really.
Next, what looks like perhaps another mako having a go at an ROV:
From the same YouTube user SouthernVenture, a sperm whale idles by some sort of submerged equipment at 3,000ft depth
Another remarkable clip from SouthernVenture showing an ROV crew trying to extract a billfish from one of their wells in Australia:
This one from user Camioio shows first a sleeper shark and what I think is a mokarran hammerhead cruising around a well head, then a lightning fast strike on the equipment by a small broadbill swordfish:
This one shows what look like humboldt squids, attacking an ROV during ascent in the Pacific:
In this last one, the equipment (or rather its operator) wins an interactions with a small demersal shark (not sure of the ID) in fairly emphatic fashion due to a powerful suction dredge pump. In fact, it looks deliberate, which is kind of sad
So, sea life and ROV’s and other submarine equipment are inevitably going to come into contact from time to time. Operators can choose to help (as with the crew trying to free the swordfish) or they can do what the last folks did. Either way, we have to expect these sorts of incidents to become more common as ROV usage increases. Have you had an animal interaction while working with underwater equipment? If so, lets hear about it in the comments.
h/t Dr. Ian Bricknell