Prototype of new underwater television and hydrophone before installation on 18th March 2000
The photograph above shows the new underwater television and hydrophone rig on the beach before launching. Its design is intentionally simple, and the framework consists of just four pieces of "Dexion" slotted steel angle. In the picture on the right, the excellent SystemQ television camera is marked with a "C". Near the letter "H" there is a the hydrophone taped to the underside of the framework, and one of the waterproof lights can be seen at "L". Elsewhere on the framework there are various resin-potted cable junctions and an amplifer for the hydrophone. "P" marks the end of a short length of copper pipe attached to a hose-pipe bundled with the cables, and terminating back in the control room. We will now be able to conduct experiments in fish-training by ejecting a small quantity of fish-food from the pipe at regular intervals, and monitoring the results. It is hoped that both scavengers and predators will "turn up" at the alotted time, and allow themselves to be studied. As this first study site is quite close to the fish farm - the best source of free lunches in the whole of Loch Ness- we will simply have to offer a more up-market menu!
In underwater studies made last summer using a television camera towed beneath a boat, both bottom dwelling and mid-water fish were encountered with reasonable frequency. If a camera with its lights arrives silently in a fish's environment, the fish may not react with any great speed, and so it may remain in place long enough to be observed. However, placing a camera with lights at a fixed location is a different matter, and may well lead to avoidance of the area. We will begin to gather information on these subjects as the weeks pass. There are obviously advantages in having shore-based, fixed station equipment, as few people would wish to endure a late-March gale on Loch Ness on any boat. There are also disadvantages, however, as some creatures may have regular itineraries, and if the station is not on one, we might see nothing. Here are the first images from the fixed underwater camera.
At the very least, we can now begin to find out some of the answers.
Dick Raynor about to lower the new tv equipment, after rowing the "Tardis",
and towing the cable bundle, into a stiff March breeze. "...Must
be far enough now...it sure feels like 100 metres...need a bigger boat...and
an engine!" (Dr Who?'s original "Tardis" was much larger inside than
it was outside...this one seems to have developed a fault. When I am rowing
it 200 metres from the shore it feels tiny!)