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Cortland Helps Monitor Atlantic Sea Scallops

The Challenge
When the School of Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) at the University of Massachusetts was in need of specially designed electrical coaxial cable in order to conduct a ‘scallop census’, Cortland Company was on hand to evaluate and re-design their existing rather tired cable providing the oceanographers with a more durable, better alternative.

The Solution
Cortland’s reputation for providing custom-built cables for use in underwater environments gave the SMAST oceanographers the confidence in the delivery of a cable that fitted a detailed list of requirements.

Inside Cortland’s specially made 600ft cable are three custom-designed coaxial cables. The cable connects the survey frame to monitors and recorders in the pilothouse of commercial fishing vessels. Attached to the monitoring frame are three video cameras, each sending its images up one of the three coaxes within Cortland’s custom-built cable.

Cortland’s solution involved embedding the Vectran strength member into the outer wall of the cable; this creates a skeleton braid adding greater strength. Vectran is fiber noted for its high strength and resistance to moisture, able to remain stable in hostile environments.

Doug Bentley, Applications Engineer from Cortland said: “This design, incorporating the three coaxial cables, was created exclusively for SMAST at our facility in Cortland NY. The cable’s polyurethane jacket is not available commercially, the advantage of this design means that molded on connectors can be sealed for underwater use, to avoid leaking.

“We specialize in delivering one-off custom-built applications where commercial, off the shelf cables would not work in these demanding harsh environments. For example, a commercial coax would have a PVC jacket, this just isn’t suitable for underwater applications. PVC Plastic is not easy to bond and doesn’t have good impermeability to sea water.

“A project of this nature required our specialized knowledge and expertise; we understood the customer’s problem and were able to design a solution that best met with their specific requirements.”

As scallop populations fluctuate from year to year, it is important to monitor them annually in order to maintain a sustainable commercial fishery. The most effective way to oversee the scallop population is to count them.

The sampling system used by Dr. Kevin Stokesbury and his team at SMAST makes use of Cortland’s custom-built coaxial cables to connect to its survey frame - a three-meter square tripod frame - to their own monitors and recorders in the pilothouse of commercial fishing vessels. Attached to the frame are eight lights, three video cameras and a digital still camera.

Jon Carey, from the School of Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) at the University of Massachusetts commented: “We sample around 2,500 areas or stations each year, producing around 40,000 images. We needed a durable cable that we could wind-in and out effectively without it losing any integrity. The information we collect is vital to estimate the abundance and biomass of scallops and provide this information to fishery managers.

“Cortland has a strong track record in providing custom-built cables for underwater use, we approached them with our problem and we are very pleased with the end product supplied; these cables form a vital part of our research equipment.”

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