An Epibenthic Sledge consists of a rectangular steel frame with a mesh net (often more than one) attached to it. Towed along the ocean floor, its weight scrapes into the benthos, collecting any organisms on the surface or in the first few centimeters of sediment. It also collects the organisms in the water column just above the benthos. A video camera is often attached to the net. Epibenthic Sledges are good for collecting relatively mobile (but not fast swimming) benthic organisms, but it can cause injury to delicate organisms. Sledges differ from benthic trawls in that the sledges are meant to collect some organisms that live in surface layers of the sediment, whereas trawls are designed primarily to sample from upwards of the sediment-water interface.
A standard Epibenthic Sledge on the deck of a research vessel. (Southampton Oceanographic Centre)
A small Epibenthic Sledge used for sampling relatively short sections of the ocean floor. (Anja Liebermann)
A state-of-the-art Epibenthic Sledge being used to study deep-sea biodiversity in the Atlantic Ocean. (Census of the Diversity of Abyssal Marine Life - CeDAMar)