Instrument: Video Plankton Recorder


The Video Plankton Recorder (VPR) is a video-microscope system used for imaging plankton and other particulate matter in the size range from a few micrometers to several centimeters. The VPR is essentially an underwater microscope. It consists of four video cameras (with magnifying optics) synchronized at 60 fields per second (fps) to a red-filtered 80 W xenon strobe (pulse duration = 1 microsecond). The current lens on each camera can be adjusted to provide a field of view between 5 mm and 10 cm. Use of higher magnification lenses is currently being explored for viewing protozoans (less than 1 micrometer resolution). The four cameras are set for concentric viewing fields so that a range of up to four magnifications can be viewed simultaneously, allowing a wide size range of plankton to be sampled. Depth of field is adjusted by the lens aperture setting, and the volume sampled in each video field ranges from about 1 ml to 1 liter, depending on lens settings. The cameras have been configured for stereoscopic viewing as well.A strobe on the other arm illuminates the imaged volume and flashes 60 times per second, producing 60 images per second of the particles and plankton in the water. The images are then saved internally on a computer hard disk and later plotted.

Deployment: Most commonly, the VPR is mounted in a frame and lowered into the water from the stern of the ship. Sometimes, a CTD also is mounted next to the VPR to collect depth, temperature, and salinity information at the same time as each video image. The instrument is lowered down through the water to a maximum depth of 350 meters to generate a profile of plankton/particle abundance and taxon group along with temperature and salinity. In addition to the towed configuration for mapping plankton distributions, it is possible to deploy the VPR in a fixed position (on a mooring) for viewing plankton swimming behaviors in two or three dimensions. The VPR instrument system has been used in both configurations, and deployment on ROVs has been proposed.

This definition was taken from the WHOI Ocean Instruments Web site and from a US GLOBEC Newsletter.