Although it’s a relatively recent marine research tool, underwater video monitoring in marine environments is becoming more widespread as the technology improves. Since the 1950’s it’s been used to monitor marine plankton, fish behavior and freshwater biodiversity. For the most part these video systems have been operated in clear-water environments, including coastal fish cages.

There are advantages to using video over traditional diver-based monitoring:

  • Creating a permanent record of observations
  • Reducing observer bias
  • Reducing in-water times for divers, lowering personal risk and increasing the number of sampling hours
  • Sampling in sensitive areas without impact on the eco-system as they are non-extractive and harmless to fish and habitat
  • Allowing easy exchange of information between researchers and other team members
  • Observing life in parts of the ocean out of reach to divers

The Australian InstUnderwater Video Monitoringitute of Marine Science, AIMS, uses two video monitoring techniques in tropical waters: towed video and baited remote underwater video stations.

A towed video camera allows for large areas of marine habitat to be surveyed in a systematic fashion in water depths of up to 200 meters. The video camera is towed behind a boat at a fixed speed along a survey line. This allows the scientists to observe seabed habit via video in real time and capture high-resolution images at regular intervals. The captured imagery can later be analyzed to describe habitats, species distributions and map seabed biodiversity over broad areas. It also has given AIMS scientists insight into the types of habitats that occur in more remote and previously unexplored locations.

First developed by AIMS, baited remote underwater video stations (BRUVS) have become a common fish-surveying tool around the globe.  By attracting fish into the field of view or a remotely controlled camera, the technique records fish diversity, behavior and abundance of species. A canister is baited and lowered to the bottom from a surface vessel, or a remotely operated underwater vehicle. The video is then transmitted directly to the surface by cable, or recorded for later analysis. Baited cameras are effective at attracting scavengers and other predators. Since BRUVS are of non-extractive nature, it offers a low environmental impact of understanding changes in fish numbers and diversity over time.

Both systems of underwater video monitoring can be used in more murky waters. Being able to examine habitats in eco-systems that are less than clear requires high precision lenses crafted into either particular model. With the expert engineers and manufacturing team at Universe Optics, you can be confident knowing that your equipment will meet the highest standards possible.

Likewise, a joint project between the English and French, (The Protected Area Network Across the Channel Ecosystem (PANACHE)) was aimed at a better understanding and management of the network of marine protected areas in the English Channel.

This study used three technically different types of towed underwater video monitoring to test different seabed types (rocky, mixed ground and sandy). Each system was equipped with different optical specifications. Differences in the intensity of light, and the use of HD resolution increased the taxonomic power of the video footage’s obtained.

Underwater imagery studies via the use of video monitoring systems are the standard when monitoring and identifying vulnerable communities and ecosystems. The information gathered will help biologists and scientists globally designate and manage marine protected areas.