A Professor/Student team at Wake Forest University has built an OpenROV out of solid gold. Well, that's not true. But they have built an ROV and are planning some pretty serious exploration:
The ROV’s first deployment will be at Lighthouse Reef, an atoll off the coast of Belize and part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, over spring break. This trip will provide an opportunity to study a wide variety of aquatic environments including mangrove forests, the shallow reef lagoon, the reef surrounding the atoll, and the infamous Great Blue Hole. The Great Blue Hole is a 407-foot deep sinkhole in the reef. Jacques Cousteau was the first to reach the bottom of the hole in 1971, diving in dangerous conditions using advanced equipment and techniques. The ROV will explore the depths of the blue hole making visual observations as well as collecting data about the water column and sediments. This information will provide valuable insight into the nature of this unique marine environment.
After exploring Lighthouse Reef, the ROV will continue to be used to further research on the forefront of conservation science. With global climate change threatening to fundamentally change our world’s oceans through coral bleaching, ocean acidification, and sea level rise, the study of coral reefs, near-shore environments, and open-ocean has never been more important. With the ability to observe our oceans in greater detail, we are able to learn more about how our oceans work and make better, more-informed decisions about how to protect our environment.