The so-called ‘Eye-in-the-Sea’, a 502-pound video camera, is a recent addition to the first observatory operating in deep sea water. It will become part of a new kind of scientific exploration to assess the impacts of climate change on marine life. The observatory, Monterey Accelerated Research Station or MARS, began operating in November 2008 off the California coast. It is in form of a giant metal pyramid connected to shore by 32 miles of cable and serves as a gigantic electrical outlet for equipment such as the camera. Instruments onboard measure currents, seismic activity and effect of higher acidity on the marine life. The observatory and webcam permit real time information to be streamed ashore, giving researchers an opportunity to watch life at 500 fathoms and understand the effect of greenhouse gasses faster and better than before.
The observatory, its instruments and the webcam are the product of research and funding of Ocean Research and Conservation Association (ORCA). ORCA is dedicated to the protection and restoration of marine ecosystems and the species they sustain through the development of innovative technologies and science based conservation action. Their website gives a good overview of the research undertaken and gives one an opportunity to look at the streaming video feed coming in from the deep-sea webcam. There are also links for volunteer opportunities and donations for those so inclined.