Open Access

Concepts of underwater experimentation

  • J. A. Ott1
Helgoländer wissenschaftliche Meeresuntersuchungen24:BF01609499


1. Recent advances in underwater research are reviewed and critically discussed. New technologies include deep-sea diving apparatus, saturation diving from underwater habitats, submersibles and remote-controlled vehicles. The fields of application include increasingly ecology and animal behaviour.

2. The term “underwater experimentation” is defined and examples provided to illustrate pertinent research.

3. Underwater experimentation is compared to laboratory experimentation. The latter is restricted to a limited set of suitable organisms, which are subjected to “controlled” but frequently quite “artificial” conditions. Furthermore, only systems of a very low degree of complexity can be studied in the laboratory. Underwater experimentation is limited by the restricted performance of man under in situ conditions. Automatisation of experimental units and use of remote-controlled vehicles are proposed to enhance man's underwater capacity.

4. The need for the design of underwater experiments, especially for system analysis, is emphasized. There is an increasing demand for predictive models to anticipate the potential impacts of civilisation on the marine environment.