Operations Services

The Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) is a robust and reliable instrument designed to capture plankton samples over huge areas of ocean. The CPR is usually towed from the stern of volunteer merchant ships such as RoRo and Container Ships. However this versatile recorder has also been deployed from large sailing vessels, fishing boats and super tankers.

The CPR body is about one metre in length and weighs approximately 85kg.  It is towed on a 10mm diameter wire rope at a depth of about 5 -10 metres. The wire is connected to the CPR nose via a shock absorber. The CPR has been operated successfully at speeds of up to 25 knots, and its robust design allows deployment in rough seas. The CPR works by filtering plankton from the water over long distances on continuously moving bands of filter silk. The filter silk band is wound through the CPR on rollers turned by gears, which are powered by a propeller. The internal mechanism of the CPR is a self-contained cassette that is loaded with the filtering silk at the laboratory. On some tows, the ships are supplied with several cassettes, which they load into the CPR body to increase the sampling range, with some ships towing a CPR over 3,500 nautical miles.On return to the laboratory, the silk is removed from the mechanism and divided into samples representing 10 nautical miles of towing. The plankton on these samples are then analysed according to standard procedures. 
If you are thinking of using a CPR or starting your own CPR survey, there are a number of things to consider first, they are highlighted in the CPR Guide.

Our highly experienced operation's team is able to advise in all aspects of running a CPR Survey including:  

Courses and training

We offer IMaREST approved CPR Technical Training Course as well as bespoke maritime courses such as; advice on towing at sea, working with the shipping industry, working with sister surveys and setting up new CPR routes. 


Our plankton filter silks are custom designed, handmade, quality controlled and supplied to the global CPR Survey community. We can supply equipment and spares such as new CPR's, CPR spares. 

Logistics and support

For your CPR Survey: including supply, training, help in setting up new routes, securing volunteer ships and ongoing support  

Want further information? Contact Operations Manager Lance Gregory ppr@mba.ac.uk