Video Fish Surveys

By David Chervin

The Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) is using video technology to monitor California marine environments and needs our help.

MLML has built the Lander Video system to capture images of marine life. This system consists of several standard underwater video cameras, such as the GoPro models, mounted on a device that can be dropped from a boat. The devise has lights and the ability to scan an arch of underwater reef.

Using video data capture has several advantages over fish surveys conducted by SCUBA divers in providing data for use by fisheries managers:

  1. Diver surveys are limited by depth subject to observer bias
  2. Video data creates a permanent record that can be re-watched and viewed by a wide audience
  3. Video techniques remove the need for trained divers and are increasingly cost-effective

MLML is looking for people interested in marine life to test whether the analysis of the video data can be accomplished by crowdsourcing. As part of the test, volunteers will view up to six videos and record counts of fish by species. Each video includes eight one-minute sweeps of a rocky reef area. Volunteers will identify the species and counts in each sweep.

The test includes training in identifying fish. The video data is captured at around 100-300’ depths. This depth is below where a diver typically surveys and above the range of a typical remote operated vehicle (ROV). Volunteers have the opportunity to see species of fish not normally available at recreational diving depths.

Materials to learn how to identify fish species and record results are available from the MLML. A link to the test videos is available on YouTube. You can also download the video files.

To participate in this test, contact James Williamson by email at jwilliamson@mlml.calstate.edu. James conducted a training session at the Moss Landing facility for a group from Reefcheck in January and is considering additional training sessions. Contact James for more information.

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