The torpedo-shaped robot has been used by WHOI researchers to study sharks off the coast of Cape Cod as well as those near Guadalupe Island on the West Coast of Mexico, where this video comes from. Their SharkCam is providing biologists with some of the first-ever, up-close views of sharks in the wild.
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REMUS is equipped with a lot of shark-observing technology, including a navigation system, acoustic sensors, GPS, Wi-Fi, temperature probes and 6 GoPro video cameras positioned in a way that provide a 360-degree field of view. The robot is pre-programmed to zero in on signals emitted from transponders previously attached to the animals. It can detect those beacons at depths up to 330 feet.
In 2013, the marine researchers deployed REMUS in the waters near Guadalupe Island to track sharks and film them interacting with their environment. Some sharks became territorial, charging REMUS and bumping it aggressively. Other sharks behaved in a more predatory manner, lurking in the depths below REMUS and then swimming up quickly to bite the robot. This is the same technique used to hunt seals.
To the delight of the researchers, the SharkCam survived dozens of interactions captured not only in the video but also in the teeth marks left behind in the hull of the robot. One researcher can be heard saying, "We lost our deposit," as REMUS is pulled from the water.
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The video is just one of many being featured on Discovery's Shark Cam website during Shark Week. Check back regularly for more.
According to WHOI, "Plans are currently underway to use the system to follow other large marine animals such as sea turtles."
Credit: WHOI via Vimeo