Last summer, we wrote about a vision-enabled autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) developed by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Oceanographic Systems Laboratory that is designed to track and capture up-close footage of a great white shark off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts for a Discovery Channel Shark Week special. (Note: This year’s Shark Week special begins on August 10.)
Known as "Shark Cam," the remote environmental monitoring unit (REMUS) is equipped with six GoPro cameras that provide a 360° field of view, as well as an acoustic communication system, modem, and transducer, which allows it to communicate with scientists on the surface. It is programmed to follow signals emitted from transponders previously attached to the sharks, and can detect those beacons at depths up to 330 feet.
In 2013, the REMUS was deployed for tests near Guadalupe Island in Mexico to track the sharks and film them interacting with their environment. At the time, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute marine biologist Greg Skomal joked about the Shark Cam being eaten, noting that it had been largely ignored by the sharks.
Well count me among those who expected that to eventually change.
In footage captured in 2013 from tests performed in Mexico, a great white shark can be viewed in full, terrifying HD video attacking the SharkCam. The sharks can be seen lurking in the depths below the AUV and them swimming up rapidly to bite the robot, similar to how they hunt for seals, according to the Discovery Channel. Not only was the shark attack caught on video, but the SharkCam itself was left with a number of teeth marks in the hull of the robot.
"We lost our deposit," remarked one researcher as the vehicle was pulled from the water.