ROVs

There are many potential vectors for species invasion, including ship ballast, exotic animal trade, and accidental or intentional import. During the past decade, researchers identified submersible research equipment, like remote operated vehicles (ROVs) and human occupied vehicles (HOVs) as being potential vectors for the spread of aquatic invasive species.

 

Although no species invasion has, as yet, been directly attributed to work-class research submersibles, the tens of thousands of submersible vehicles operating around the world for research, industry, exploration, and recreation, create the potential for the introduction of invasive species via these high-tech vectors.​​

Photo credit: NOAA.

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The following protocol checklist (source: DOI:10.1177/194008291500800308*) was created for researchers and others to use when traveling between regions where the risk of transporting invasive species exists:

  • During expedition preparation:

    • Familiarize yourself with the most recent scientific literature on current species invasions and potential risks in the geographic regions that you are traveling to and from.​

    • Thoroughly clean and sanitize microROVs and any associated equipment prior to departure. 

    • Soak microROV in freshwater for 24 hours prior to departure.
       

  • Before each dive:

    • Visually inspect all microROV components and associated gear for organic material and other potential vectors for species invasion. Dispose of any material in such a way as to prevent secondary uptake.

  • After each dive:

    • Rinse microROV in sterile, fresh water to remove any collected organic material. Dispose of any material in such a way as to prevent secondary uptake.​

    • Visually inspect all microROV components and associated gear for organic material and other potential vectors for species invasion. Dispose of any material in such a way to prevent secondary uptake.
       

  • Prior to travel between discrete sites:

Soak microROV in dilute bleach solution.

​* Thaler, A.D., A. Freitag, E. Bergman, D. Fretz, and W. Saleu. 2015. Robots as vectors for marine invasions: Best practices for minimizing transmission of invasive species via observation-class ROVs. Tropical Conservation Science 8(3):711-717.