Benthic Underwater Microscope can study marine subjects at micron resolution

Benthic Underwater Microscope can study marine subjects at micron resolution

This new diver-operated underwater microscope is helping researchers to view never-before-seen events of the underwater world. It is the brainchild of the researchers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego.

Using this microscopic imaging system known as the Benthic Underwater Microscope (BUM) the researchers were able to see the processes that naturally take place on the seafloor, especially corals. The researchers have witnessed coral turf war, coral polyp kissing and many other exciting things.

The research paper published in Nature Communications polyps are massive structures that are being built by small animals. These polyps are linked to jellyfish and sea anemones and millions of them are required to build and maintain a reef.

Study’s lead author Andrew Mullen from UC San Diego said that the underwater microscope comprises of camera that can carry out the functions of clicking photos and videos and a camera is also present that focuses on lens and stores images. The microscope can be attached to a tripod so as to allow scientists to place it where they want it.

Availability of white LED bulbs provides the needed light to click images to a resolution of around one micrometer. Scientists who are in charge of the unit could also see images as they are taken, allowing live feedback of the quality of the images.

The new microscope allowed researchers look what is present inside the translucent coral skeleton and the microscopic plants cells living inside. “This underwater microscope is the first instrument to image the seafloor at such small scales. The system is capable of seeing features as small as single cells underwater”, unveiled the researchers.