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"the [science fiction] writer should be able to convince the reader (and himself) that the wonders he is describing really can come true...and that gets tricky when you take a good, hard look at the world around you."
- Frederik Pohl

Sonar Pistol  
  A device that divers can use to find seabottom and objects in extremely dark or murky water.  

The action in the novel Starfish takes place at extreme ocean depths where no light from the surface penetrates. How can divers find their way around? By using the same techniques as sea creatures.

They call it a squid: a jet-propelled cylinder about a meter long, with a headlight at the front end and a towbar at the back. Clarke, floating between Beebe and the seabed, checks it over with one hand. Her other hand grips a sonar pistol. She points the pistol into blackness; ultrasonic clicks sweep the night, give her a bearing.

"That way," she says, pointing.

Ballard squeezes down on her own squid's towbar. The machine pulls her away.

From Starfish, by Peter Watts.
Published by Tor Books in 1999
Additional resources -

I don't think that there is anything as sophisticated as this device in a handheld form. Present-day divers can equip themselves with simple handheld sonar devices that look like flashlights. They are used to make a simple depth-check possible from the surface (from a kayak or canoe) or when underwater. These devices are simple, however; you point them at the bottom and press the button and a single result is provided. They do not provide a picture of what is there.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Starfish
  More Ideas and Technology by Peter Watts
  Tech news articles related to Starfish
  Tech news articles related to works by Peter Watts

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