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Sensors and Samplers. Modern Oceanographic Tools (Content and Images from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute Sensors and Samplers Section). Transmissometer.

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sensors and samplers

Sensors and Samplers

Modern Oceanographic Tools

(Content and Images from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute Sensors and Samplers Section)


1. This tool measures how much light makes it from a light source through the water to a light detector. A researcher might use this to find out how much plankton or sediment is the in the water.

sediment trap
Sediment Trap

2. This tool collects sediments that are falling toward the sea floor. It could be used to measure how much material is being dumped into the ocean by river runoff.

large volume water transfer system lvp
Large Volume Water Transfer System (LVP)

3. This tool is designed to collect particulate matter in-situ (in situation, in the place where things are taking place) to help in monitoring programs for oceanic and environmental studies.

ocean bottom seismometer
Ocean-Bottom Seismometer

4. This tool is used to detect measurements in the earth’s crust. This is useful since about 90% of earthquakes generated on the planet take place in the ocean.

moored profiler
Moored Profiler

5. This is one of the tools you saw used on the USCGC Healy. It is designed to be put in place and collect information throughout the water column (a continuous line of water from the surface down towards the bottom of the ocean). It could collect information on currents and water properties at a variety of depths over time.

biomaper ii

6. This tool lets researchers study phytoplankton and zooplankton over larger areas than traditional nets could manage and which would be too unwieldy to examine the results of with microscopes.

acoustic recording package
Acoustic Recording Package

7. This is the tool you would want to use if you wanted to listen for whales travelling through and area as is records sounds and can be left autonomously in an area for long periods of time.

conductivity temperature depth ctd sensors
Conductivity, Temperature, Depth (CTD) Sensors

8. The primary tool for measuring essential properties of sea water such as conductivity, temperature and depth.

rov rock drill system
ROV Rock Drill System

9. This is a remotely operated vehicle with a tool that lets researchers to short, high quality rock cores. Originally developed by MBARI (Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute)

zooplankton sampler zps
Zooplankton Sampler (ZPS)

10. A tool designed to collect zooplankton in-situ to support oceanographic and environmental monitoring programs.

remote access sampler ras
Remote Access Sampler (RAS)

11. Another in-situ tool that remotely collects water samples over time. Allows for monitoring of changing conditions in one place.

nets and water bottles
Nets and Water Bottles

12. Basic tools that be hung over the side of the boat or lowered on a wire to collect the most simple of samples – they still can provide very valuable information about the sea and it processes.

submersible incubation device sid
Submersible Incubation Device (SID)

13. Another tool made by McLane designed to collect particulate matter, in-situ in support of oceanographic and environmental monitoring programs.

grab sampler
Grab Sampler

14. You might also call this tool “Jaws” as it has a pair of clam-shell like sides that will chomp into the sea floor and grab whatever material and creatures are on the surface of the sea floor.

air sea interaction meteorology the asimet system
Air-Sea Interaction Meteorology (The ASIMET System)

15. A very precise tool that measures how energy and water move between the ocean and atmosphere. An important piece of equipment in studying weather and climate.

bongo paired zooplankton net
Bongo Paired Zooplankton Net

16. Sounds like a drum, but this too is a paired set of nets that allows researchers to collect two different sizes of plankton samples simultaneously.

water transfer system wts
Water Transfer System (WTS)

17. This tool draws ambient (water the tool is sitting in) through filters in order to collect suspended material from the water.

piston corer
Piston Corer

18. The longest type of sediment core collector – a piston inside the long tube helps keep pulling the sediment core up the tube overcoming friction.

hydraulically damped gravity corer
Hydraulically Damped Gravity Corer

19. Yet another type of corer, but it uses hydraulics instead of momentum from gravity to collect a core of sediments from the sea floor.


20. A very high tech version of the plankton net we used on the field trip. It is designed so that separate nets can open and close as the net is pulled up from the depths of the ocean allowing plankton to be collected from specific depths rather all getting mixed up through the tow zone.

rosette sampler
Rosette Sampler

21. Most commonly used water sample – a ring of water sampling bottles that can be triggered to collect samples at a variety of depths as it is lowered or raised through the ocean’s waters.

box corer
Box Corer

22. This tool is basically a box that pokes into the surface of the sea floor and collects a shallow core of sediments.

marine magnetometer
Marine Magnetometer

23. This lets researchers measure magnetic fields on the seafloor for a variety of research interests.

video plankton recorder vpr
Video Plankton Recorder (VPR)

24. A technological wonder, this tool is able to tape video of microscopic plankton and particulate matter as small as 50 microns while submerged in the ocean .

acoustic doppler current profiler
Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler

25. This tool allows researchers to measure how fast water is moving (currents) across a water column.

gravity corer
Gravity Corer

26. This tool uses the gravity pulling its weight down through the water to plunge it into sea floor sediments and collect a core of those sediments.

improved meteorological package imet
Improved Meteorological Package (IMET)

27. This tool is used in climate change studies to examine how heat, gas and water exchange across the air-sea interface.