Use of remote operated vehicles for surveying deep cross shelf habitats and fish assemblages, including improved understanding of fish/habitat relationships

Supervisory Team:

Primary supervisor: Neville Barrett

Co-supervisor: Nick Perkins

Additional supervisors: Jacquomo Monk

Brief project description:

A range of remote-sensing tools are being applied to the survey and description of coastal and shelf habitats and their associated biological assemblages, including multibeam mapping, towed video, drop cameras, Autonomous Underwater Vehicles, Baited Underwater Video and Remote Operated Vehicles (ROVs). ROVs have had great potential in this area but historically the expense and size of vehicles capable of adequately surveying deeper shelf habitats beyond 50 m has significantly constrained research in this area. IMAS has recently acquired a Next Gen ROV called Boxfish, with a custom stereo camera system facing downward and forwards to record benthic cover as well as benthic and epi-benthic fish assemblages. This ROV is currently being deployed at a number of locations in the Freycinet and Huon AMPs for Parks Australia as part of a wider biodiversity survey of these marine parks. This project will assess the extent that the imagery acquired is suitable for describing both benthic and fish assemblages in cross-shelf habitats, as well as providing robust estimates of cover and/or abundance for use in ongoing monitoring programs. This data may be compared with BRUV data from similar areas/habitats for fish assemblages, and with AUV-derived data for benthic sessile fauna such as sponges. Ultimately the project will assist us in informing Parks Australia of optimal and cost-effective ways to undertake inventory of species and habitats in their AMP network, and to monitor core values through time. By extension, it will also greatly assist in our understanding of the offshore habitats and assemblages that underpin important commercial fisheries in our region, including rock lobster, striped trumpeter, jackass morwong.

Skills students will develop during this research project:

The student will gain extensive experience in image annotation and associated software, an intimate knowledge of Tasmanian coastal/shelf fish species and cover forming sessile invertebrates, as well as the quantitative analytical approaches to analysing these datasets. The student will be engaging with a number of national image-related programs and developing skills in an emerging field of marine science.

Authorised by the Executive Director, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
December 14, 2021