Grabs and box corers both use receptacles to collect sediment after they are dropped to the seafloor. While the scooping motion of grabs disrupts unconsolidated sediment to various degrees, box corers return largely undisturbed samples of the sediment strata (Eleftheriou 2013). Grabs and box corers target surface sediment and associated porewater and fauna. They are typically deployed over sandy or muddy substrates, although some grabs can also collect gravel or cobbles.

There is no single type of grab or box corer suitable for all environments, and selection of the most suitable type depends on the biological or physical target, substrate, depth, and vessel capabilities (Narayanaswamy et al. 2016). Acquired data can be quantitative (e.g. surface area, volumetric or mass specific) or semi-quantitative due to inconsistencies in sample volume and sediment disruption due to bow waves or other gear effects (Blomqvist 1991). For these reasons, this manual does not mandate specific gear types. There are numerous references to help facilitate decisions regarding grab and box corer equipment for a given marine survey (Riddle 1989, Eleftheriou and Moore 2013, Danovaro 2010, Narayanaswamy et al. 2016). Nevertheless, for monitoring purposes, it is preferable to maintain consistent gear through time and space, and we therefore recommend this where possible.