Developing protocols for in‐water morphometric measurements of cetaceans using stereo‐videogrammetry

Hillcoat, Suzanne K., Curnock, Matthew I., Gardiner, Naomi M., and Birtles, R. Alastair (2021) Developing protocols for in‐water morphometric measurements of cetaceans using stereo‐videogrammetry. Marine Mammal Science, 37 (1). pp. 45-63.

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Morphometry underpins the basic knowledge of any organism's population demographics and dynamics. Such understanding enables the investigation of trends with important conservation implications including monitoring the health of individuals and changes in population dynamics over time. By detecting declines in health prior to the onset of significant mortality, monitoring of body condition can potentially allow time for a management response to avert population decline. We trialed the use of a diver‐operated stereo‐video (SDOV) system for making morphometric measurements of dwarf minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata subsp.), a small oceanic rorqual, in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. The SDOV system produced 68% more precise replicate total body length measurements than a single‐camera system, while both systems achieved a mean error below 0.5%. The increased precision offered by a SDOV system is desirable for longitudinal monitoring of growth rates and body condition. Optimal application of this method relied on adherence to protocols for both data collection and analysis beyond those dictated by the equipment user manuals. We provide recommendations for these field and analytical protocols, which may be suitable for use with other cetaceans when in‐water access is available.

Item ID: 66848
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1748-7692
Keywords: Balaenoptera acutorostrata, diver-operated stereo-video, dwarf minke whale, monitoring, morphometry, photogrammetry, population demographics, swim-with, videogrammetry
Copyright Information: © 2020 Society for Marine Mammalogy
Funders: Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), James Cook University (JCU)
Projects and Grants: GBRMPA Reef Guardians Grant 2018, JCU Postgraduate Research Scholarship
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2021 01:47
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 80%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410407 Wildlife and habitat management @ 20%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180502 Assessment and management of pelagic marine ecosystems @ 100%
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