Plankton Net Camera

Sponsors: National Science Foundation

Project Overview:

The SPC netcam is an adaptation of the original SPC cameras (retired at the end of 2014) to image objects in the water flowing out the end of a plankton net. In many scenarios, the natural density of plankton in key size ranges such as 0.5 to 5 mm is too low to be sampled with high spatial resolution and good sample statistics. One example that motivated the construction of the netcam are the waters off Little Cayman. Towards this end, the netcam aims to concentrate the water imaged by the cameras while maintaining high resolution in the images of millimeter-sized plankton.

General Information:

The system consists of a very rigid aluminum frame made from a central octagon bracket with eight I-beams extending out away from the center to hold four pressure housings, and four u-bolt mounts for steel cables. The cables extend the length of the plankton net to a bridle. The top of the central bracket is fitted with a 4″ PVC tube with holes cut for illumination and imaging and an adapter to attach to the end of the net. The bottom of the central bracket had treads to attach a cod end if desired. The system weighs roughly 135 lbs in air and can be deployed from a small boat relatively easily and towed from the surface down to depths of 10s of meters.


  • Principal Investigators: Jules S. Jaffe, Brice Semmens
  • Principal Engineers: Paul L. D. Roberts and Devin Ratelle
  • Graduate Students: Andrew D. Mullen, Brian Stock, Eric Orenstein, Jessica Garwood

Photos, Videos, and Data:

Example Images from the Netcam 110 System as deployed in Little Cayman 2016: