Remote High-Definition Rotating Video Enables Fast Spatial Survey of Marine Underwater Macrofauna and Habitats

Type Article
Date 2012-02
Language English
Author(s) Pelletier DominiqueORCID1, 2, Leleu Kevin2, 3, Mallet Delphine1, Mou-Tham Gerard2, Herve Gilles4, Boureau Matthieu3, Guilpart Nicolas2, 3
Affiliation(s) 1 : IFREMER, Unite Rech Lagons Ecosyst & Aquaculture Durable N, Noumea, New Caledonia.
2 : IRD, Unite Rech CoReUs, Noumea, New Caledonia.
3 : IFREMER, Lab Biol Halieut, Plouzane, France.
4 : IFREMER, Lab Environm & Ressources PACA, La Seyne Sur Mer, France.
Source Plos One (1932-6203) (Public Library Science), 2012-02 , Vol. 7 , N. 2 , P. -
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0030536
WOS© Times Cited 35
Abstract Observing spatial and temporal variations of marine biodiversity from non-destructive techniques is central for understanding ecosystem resilience, and for monitoring and assessing conservation strategies, e.g. Marine Protected Areas. Observations are generally obtained through Underwater Visual Censuses (UVC) conducted by divers. The problems inherent to the presence of divers have been discussed in several papers. Video techniques are increasingly used for observing underwater macrofauna and habitat. Most video techniques that do not need the presence of a diver use baited remote systems. In this paper, we present an original video technique which relies on a remote unbaited rotating remote system including a high definition camera. The system is set on the sea floor to record images. These are then analysed at the office to quantify biotic and abiotic sea bottom cover, and to identify and count fish species and other species like marine turtles. The technique was extensively tested in a highly diversified coral reef ecosystem in the South Lagoon of New Caledonia, based on a protocol covering both protected and unprotected areas in major lagoon habitats. The technique enabled to detect and identify a large number of species, and in particular fished species, which were not disturbed by the system. Habitat could easily be investigated through the images. A large number of observations could be carried out per day at sea. This study showed the strong potential of this non obtrusive technique for observing both macrofauna and habitat. It offers a unique spatial coverage and can be implemented at sea at a reasonable cost by non-expert staff. As such, this technique is particularly interesting for investigating and monitoring coastal biodiversity in the light of current conservation challenges and increasing monitoring needs.
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