Remotely operated vehicles as alternatives to snorkellers for video-based marine research

Raoult, Vincent, Tosetto, Louis, Harvey, Courtney, Nelson, Tess M., Reed, Josh, Parikh, Aashi, Chan, Alysha J., Smith, Timothy M., and Williamson, Jane E. (2020) Remotely operated vehicles as alternatives to snorkellers for video-based marine research. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 522. 151253.

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Capabilities of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) have increased substantially in the last decade, and mini-ROV designs are now able to conduct visual research frequently conducted by snorkellers or divers in shallow marine environments. There are logistical, financial and experimental benefits of using mini-ROVs over snorkellers or divers, yet the adoption of mini-ROVs for common shallow underwater research tasks has not been widespread. To assess the capabilities of mini-ROVs to sample fish communities we compared the results produced by a mini-ROV to that of snorkellers for performing two of the most common marine video-based research activities (1) underwater visual fish census and (2) observing and tracking fish behaviour. Results of both activities suggested that the fish community observed by the mini-ROV was not distinguishable to that observed by the snorkellers, however, the mini-ROV detected significantly more fish (39% higher abundance) and greater diversity (24% higher). When tracking butterflyfish behaviour, video obtained from the mini-mini-ROV was as efficient as a snorkeller at finding and tracking individuals. Video from the mini-ROV produced comparable responses to that from snorkellers with hand-held GoPros, although over the course of tracks the response between the two methods differed, with a decrease in refuge time for snorkeller video and an increase in tailbeat rate for the mini-ROV video. Our study shows that video obtained from mini-ROVs can be used for research in shallow marine environments when direct manipulations are not required. We predict the research capabilities of mini-ROVs to increase substantially in the coming years, which should cement the use of this tool for research across all marine environments.

Item ID: 68701
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0022-0981
Copyright Information: © 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Date Deposited: 12 Jul 2022 03:55
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310901 Animal behaviour @ 30%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310399 Ecology not elsewhere classified @ 30%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 40%
SEO Codes: 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280111 Expanding knowledge in the environmental sciences @ 30%
18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180504 Marine biodiversity @ 20%
18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180502 Assessment and management of pelagic marine ecosystems @ 50%
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