BSL engineers are designing solutions to achieve client objectives in unique and varied environments. The design and manufacture of specialist tools is undertaken in-house by BSL. Our team is experienced in the use of a broad range of field sampling tools, owned and/or operated to suit all types of surveys.

General Overview

BSL owns and operates a large range of sampling devices, designed to provide solutions to challenging as well as routine surveys in the marine environment. If we do not already possess a solution for your field requirements, you can rely on our recognised reputation for innovation and refinement to meet your needs. The design and manufacture of specialist tools is undertaken in-house by BSL personnel, with many of our historical designs and modifications routinely used by other contractors within the offshore industry.

Examples include:

  • Specialist corers (deep penetration multi-corers and ROV/diver operated systems)
  • Specialist samplers (BSL double grab sampler)
  • Subsea photography (deep-water digital cameras systems, freshwater lens adaptation for high turbidity environments and biodiversity camera systems)
  • Sediment biology processing (Wilson Autosiever©)
  • Launch and recovery systems for third party vessels

BSL has a large pool of equipment to operate in a wide variety of environments, including:

  • Grabs (Day, BSL double grab, Hamon and Van Veen): 0.025 to 0.2m²
  • Box corers (USNEL and Grey-O’Hara (modified GOMEX)): 0.25m²
  • Corers (gravity, piston and cartridge multi-corer): 2, 3 and 6m penetration options
  • Underwater video and stills camera systems (remote time-lapse, towed fish and bed-hop configurations): water depths down to 4km
  • Freshwater lens for operations in high turbidity environments
  • Specialist corers and samplers for remotely operated vehicles (ROV)
  • Water and plankton samplers
  • Field probes and profilers (Redox, pH, CTD and DO)
  • Sidescan sonar and echo sounder systems
  • Commercial and scientific fish trawls, nets and dredges

And many more!

Sediment / Fauna Samplers


The USNEL type box corer has become the standard sampling tool for surveys in soft or mixed deep sediments. The enlarged surface area of the box (0.25m²) allows for relatively large sample sizes to be recovered in any water depth. The standard box corer is built and deployed within a gimballed hexagonal frame, with a standard deployment weight of up to 900kg and maximum penetration of 65cm. This sampler has inspection hatches and a removal box for sample recovery.


This box corer (also called the GOMEX corer) is a more compact type of sampling device which is a standard sampling tool for surveys in very soft sediments. The enlarged surface area of the box (0.25m²) allows for relatively large sample sizes to be recovered in any water depth. The box corer is deployed from a separate deck frame and has a standard deployment weight of up to 450kg and maximum penetration of 70cm. This sampler has a large inspection hatch for direct sub-sampling.


The BSL double grab (sometimes referred to as a double Van Veen) was designed and built by BSL in 2007 to improve efficiency when multiple sediment sample replicates are required, or where both physico-chemical and biological replicates are required at a single location. This multi-purpose sampling tool is ideal for shallow-water and deep-water operations alike, effectively halving the ship-time required to acquire sample replicates. Made of stainless steel, the grab has a deployment weight of approximately 200kg and each bucket has a 15 litre capacity and a maximum penetration of 20cm.


The 0.1m² Day grab is the standard sampling tool for medium to shallow water operations. Its compact, but heavy duty design allows for use in a multitude of sediments type from both small and large vessels. BSL operates modified units of its own construction which are entirely comprised of stainless steel with a deployment weight of approximately 200kg, a 15 litre bucket capacity and a maximum penetration of 20cm. Each unit is supplied with a stand, and has access doors for sample inspection and sub-sampling. This sampler can be operated by a single user.


The mini-Hamon grab is a 0.1m² version of the standard larger unit. This device is ideal for obtaining bulk samples of mixed seabed sediments, ranging from silts to gravels, and is the sampler of choice for coarse sediment surveys (diamiction sands and gravel) and aggregate surveys (as approved by CEFAS). BSL operates modified units fitted with a stainless steel bucket and an additional access door for sample inspection and sub-sampling. The unit is supplied with a separate stand, and has a deployment weight of approximately 200kg, a 12 litre bucket capacity and a maximum penetration of 20cm.


BSL utilises a standard Feritech gravity and/or piston corer based on a 3.5 inch (89mm) internal dimension barrel. There are two penetration option: 3m or 6m, using a clear PVC liner and a tulip-type core catcher insert. The design is based upon proven concepts…including a quick barrel release and configurable weights between 40kg and 500kg to control the penetration depth. This system can be deployed manually or via a hydraulic catcher system.


This is a unique deep-penetration multi-corer, designed and built by BSL to obtain high quality surface samples from drilling-related cuttings pile (i.e. decommissioning surveys) and micro-seep samples for geochemical exploration. This 500kg sampler has an adjustable penetration capacity down to 2m, and can recover up to three cores simultaneously in soft sediments. Unlike other corers, this sampler ensures the surface sediments remain undisturbed, and is ideal for detailed chemical and stratigraphic analysis.


The Wilson Autosiever© (WAS) was designed by Ian Wilson in the late 1980s to standardise sieving operations, increasing efficiency of handling and processing without compromising the quality. Its simple, yet unique and revolutionary design enables its employment from any vessel in a variety of different sediment conditions, ranging from coarse heterogenic substrates to soft clays and silts. Cited as best practice for biological processing*, the WAS system has become standard throughout the North Sea and is used worldwide. Systems are currently being employed all around the world by a multitude of different users including survey companies, fish farms, government institutes and agencies, laboratories, universities and environmental consultancies.

* Proudfoot, R.K., Elliott, M, Dyer, M.F., Barnett, B.E., Allen, J.H., Proctor, N.L., Cutts, N.D., Nikitik, C., Turner, G., Breen, J., Hemmingway, K.L. and Mackie, T., 1997. Collection and processing of macrobenthic samples from soft sediments; a best practice review. Proceedings of the Humber Benthic Field Methods Workshop, Hull University.

Camera Systems


Our state-of-the-art MOD 4 camera system is the most flexible camera to date. This system has 4 camera configurations possible: deep (3km) and shallow water real time; ultra deepwater time-lapse and remote time-lapse; using 4 possible deployment configurations. The MOD 4 camera is supplied with its own lighting system, scaling lasers, a HD video option and 24 megapixels images that can be transmitted to the surface for instant review. With almost instant shutter control, the system is also ideal for use with the BSL freshwater lens for high turbidity operations.


The STR Seabug system was originally built in collaboration with BSL, and has become the industry standard for deep water camera operations. Based on a subsea multiplexer, which can operate over a 6km single coaxial cable, the system provides control and power for a high speed digital link to a digital stills camera (14.7 megapixel), camera flash, LED lamps, scalling laser and telemetered data service. This system has a similar depth capability to the MOD 4 camera (i.e. 3km), but has a slight shutter delay of around 800msec.


The Kongsberg OE14-208 is a targeted video and digital stills camera system designed for shallow water operations. The unit is rated to 3km, but is typically used with a shallow multi-core umbilical (typically 50, 100 and 250m) through an RS486 data link; it can also be operated via fibre optics when deployed from an ROV. It is based on a 5 megapixel Canon G5 camera, and has a dedicated flash with TTL capability. The camera is controlled from the surface and triggered with a 700msec delay, with full resolution images stored within an internal memory. Depending on the requirements, the system can be configured into shallow drop-down, towed sled or ROV-operated arrangements.


BSL pioneered the use of freshwater lens technology for high turbidity waters, designing and building the first commercial system in 2004. Since then the principle has been copied by a large number of contractors in recent years, with our own system refined to improve functionality and improve image quality. BSL has several versions, with the latest model using a multi-head strobe, and the MOD 4 camera system with instant shutter capability. This negates the need for the prolonged contact with the seabed required for most rival systems. The BSL freshwater lens system has been successfully used in water clarity down to 50mm.

Water Samplers


Non-metallic, free-flushing water samplers recommended for general-purpose water sampling. These samplers can be individually or serially attached on a cable and activated by a messenger, or placed on a ‘Rosette System’ and activated by remote command. The PVC-standard water samplers are available in 5 litre capacity, and are capable of being mounted on cable of up to ¼” (6.4 mm) diameter.


BSL operates a number of units dependent upon water depth application (typically 200m and 2km). Probes are used for full water column quality profiling, recording continuous measurements of temperature, conductivity and depth, providing calculated salinity, sound velocity and density. Optional dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity, redox and chlorophyll sensors can be added. Multi-parameter probes are usually operated during a controlled descent an ascent, either stand-alone, or mounted onto other equipment such as a camera. Measurements are logged in either direct reading or self-recording modes.


The BSL launch and recovery system (LARS) is the perfect solution for environmental and geochemical survey operations using vessels of opportunity, irrelevant of existing lifting and handling equipment onboard. The package provides a low-cost mobilisation and operational capability where dedicated survey vessels are not available or are cost prohibitive. Survey packages can include containerised A-frame and winch, fast deep-water winches, hydraulic power units (HPU), cables, sampling tools and camera systems as required. Both the LARS and the environmental survey equipment package can be shipped within a single container. This package can include samplers, corers, camera systems and water quality equipment.



This is a dedicated RAPP Hydema sampling winch, designed and built specifically for rapid deep-water sampling, coring and camera operations, and capable of holding up to 3,9km of 11mm cable. This unit can haul in at a max speed of 130 m/min (mean 100m/min) and can be supplied with sonar cable for camera or sonar operations, or dyneema for seabed sampling. The system has an inbuilt 75kW HPU (60Hz 3-phase, 200A at 440V) and a line pull of 5000kg; it also has variable speed control both locally and via an LCD remote. The system is also fitted with a line pull and line out computer.


A two speed ORE electric winch capable of holding 2km of 9mm cable. It can be supplied with double armoured coaxial cable (connected to an 8-conductor slip ring) for camera or sonar operations, or dyneema for light-weight seabed sampling. It has a line pull of 630kg and can be controlled via local or remote push button switches. This system is for low power operations and requires only a 3-phase 50Hz power supply rated to 20A at 415V.

Specialist ROV Sampling Tools

Benthic Solutions has developed a number of specialist survey tools, specifically designed for use by divers and/or remotely operated vehicles (ROV). Our key equipment includes:

  • Frame-mounted ROV multi-corer (1.5m penetration)
  • Basket operated ROV/diver corers (0.3 – 1m penetration)
  • Seabed sediment traps
  • Conspicuous faunal samplers
  • Acoustic recorders
  • Time-lapse camera systems

Acoustic Recorders

The underwater noise measurement equipment used for attended monitoring utilises Brüel and Kjær and Reson hydrophones, selected according to the requirements of the project. The hydrophones available can cover the full range, from ambient noise to blasting overpressure. As standard, all measurements are 16-bit up to 150kHz, but this can be significantly increased if required. Multiple channels can also be recorded simultaneously, and can include tri-axial vibration measurement as well as noise. All attended monitoring is undertaken using bespoke software that helps the engineer to identify extraneous noise sources and ensure data quality. In addition to attended short-term monitoring, long-term remote monitoring solutions are available. These can include a real-time access facility, automated data upload and alerts when in range of a 3G signal.

Analysis of survey data is undertaken using in-house developed software that is based on the specific requirements of underwater noise monitoring. This can also be used in the field to review data immediately following acquisition, or to quickly analyse large quantities of data after the event.

Where studies require a controlled noise source, an array of unique high-powered underwater sound projectors, as well as seismic sources (airguns), are available to support research or investigate the sound propagation properties of a particular site.

Rental Equipment

Benthic Solutions maintains a large pool of environmental sampling and survey equipment available for rental with and without specialist operators. For more information and details about our rental equipment please feel free to contact us. Examples of rental equipment are as follows:

With Operator: