Video Plankton Recorders (VPRs)

VPRs afford a relatively inexpensive and effective way of sampling large portions of the ocean for pelagic organisms. In VPRs a towed box moves water past a video camera, recording images either continually or at pre-determined times. The images can be set to different resolutions to record a variety of planktonic organisms as small as some diatoms, but are ideal for imaging larger zooplankton such as copepods and the larvae of many other marine animals. VPRs can be towed by research vessels or commercial cargo ships that cross large areas of the ocean. For maximum effectiveness, they can be attached to trawls and other sampling instruments to obtain an accurate and useful picture of the diversity of plankton in the open ocean.


The housing for a Video Plankton Recorder, with a very streamline shape, sits ready for deployment off the back of a research vessel. (Gulf of Maine Area Program - GoMA)

A Video Plankton Recorder's instruments are given a check before use. (Gulf of Maine Area Program - GoMA)

A video still of a copepod; an example of the type of high resolution video image that can be made with a Video Plankton Recorder. (Gulf of Maine Area Program - GoMA)