NEW BEDFORD — Researchers on a NOAA-chartered vessel lost a $450,000 camera that was being towed underwater Friday when a cable apparently snagged on a sunken ship near Delaware Bay, delaying vital scallop surveys and frustrating representatives of scallopers in the northeastern U.S.

Government surveys affect future catch limits for scallops, which is the highest-value species, by far, in New Bedford’s $330 million fishing industry.

Teri Frady, spokesperson for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), said the Hugh R. Sharp research vessel was conducting scallop surveys about 75 miles southeast of Delaware Bay, which separates New Jersey from Delaware, when underwater equipment known as a HabCam “separated from the tow cable and the vessel” in about 80 meters of water.

“The surveying was occurring around a known wreck, that of the Bow Mariner, and it appears likely the tow cable snagged on it,” a NOAA statement said.

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