Researchers use underwater vehicles to survey bottomfishes near Maui Nui

By John Rooney
John Rooney and other cruise staff deploy a SeaBED autonomous underwater vehicle from the NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette to assess bottomfish abundance. NOAA photo

John Rooney and other cruise staff deploy a SeaBED autonomous underwater vehicle from the NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette to assess bottomfish abundance. NOAA photo

Jeremy Taylor, Jeff Anderson, and John Rooney of the PIFSC Coral Reef Ecosystem Division are participating in a PIFSC cruise (SE-13-02) for insular bottomfish surveys on April 15–29 aboard the NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette in an area surrounded by the cluster of islands collectively known as Maui Nui: Maui, Moloka`i, Lāna`i, and Kaho`olawe. Their involvement includes operation of a SeaBED autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), in collaboration with scientists from the Northwest Fisheries Science Center. The AUV is equipped with a stereo-pair of low-light video cameras and a BlueView imaging sonar. The use of an AUV is 1 of 4 fishery-independent survey methods for the assessment of bottomfish abundance that PIFSC researchers and their partners are working to compare and intercalibrate during a series of cruises.

Taylor also will operate a Phantom remotely operated vehicle (ROV) as part of an optical validation or “ground-truthing” study. The ROV is equipped with a video camera, lights, and a BlueView imaging sonar. The deployments of the ROV during this cruise will be the first attempt by PIFSC to image bottomfishes with an ROV. When a Simrad EK60 sonar detects large schools of fish, Taylor will deploy the vehicle. The ROV will be used to identify fishes and to add to a library of acoustic characteristics of bottomfish species.

For more information about this research cruise, see the announcement on the PIFSC website.

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