Patagonia Underwater Exploration

Latest update September 12, 2020 Started on June 8, 2018
sea

Most part of Patagonia underwater landscape remains largely unexplored. In this project we propose to explore, study and share the benthic biodiversity of rocky reefs along the Patagonian Atlantic coast. @gonzalobravoargentina

June 8, 2018
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In The Field

Whale encounter while sampling
During our rocky reef monitoring using photoquadrats a really big animal past thought.

360° Underwater Videos
For the very first time in Argentina we were able to create 360° videos of the rocky reefs from Puerto Madryn. These videos are an innovative way to show the beauty of our reefs and will help us to promote the preservation of this habitats. We plan to continue exploring this educational program, making improvements and using them for teaching about marine life.

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Diving trip
During January we traveled with a diving team to Ushuaia. We use a motorhome to be able to carry all the diving equipment and camp in remote places. We will post photos and videos soon.

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Rocky Reefs Fish
Caves, ledges and overhangs on the Patagonian rocky reefs serve as shelter for fish species that have a high degree of site-attachment. Unregulated artisanal and recreational fisheries on rocky reefs are a risk for these fish populations. When we go diving to distant sites with low fishing pressure the fish abundance increases. In this video we can see a nice density of the Argentine seabass (Acanthistius patachonicus).

That's a lot of fish! They don't seem to be afraid of you at all. Is that usual?
Hi Petr, In the places where we dive frequently inside Nuevo Gulf this fish species is normally friendly, and so easy to hunt by spear-fishers. But we have seen different behaviors for the same species in other sites of the Patagonian coast. You can check for more fish videos here : https://openexplorer.nationalgeographic.com/expedition/exploratingfishesargentinaCheers
Hi @Yumang Guintu , this video was made while scuba diving with a Canon 100D

Cabo Raso Expedition
In the middle of Chubut province an abandoned village was transformed in a tourist attraction. Many people arrived to "El Cabo" looking for a quiet place where cell phones don't work, but few people come here for diving. Open sea conditions together with great tides makes diving difficult. We were able to dive at some rocky reefs and we found a high diversity of marine sponges and tunicates, probably related with the strong currents of the site.

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Old school methods
We want to measure oceanographic variables that will help us to better understand the benthic communities on rocky reefs. Now we are using alabaster blocks to investigate differences in water motion between rocky reefs. The weight loss of alabaster blocks (all deployed at the same time) give us an estimation of where the currents are stronger = more dissolution. We hope to get some current meter soon but meanwhile we use low cost techniques.

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Preparation

Geotagging Underwater Photos
As we use a buoy with a GPS during our dives, photos are then linked with GPS coordinates using ADOBE LIGHTROOM CLASSIC. This software allow us to as upload the tracklog in .gpx format and then synchronized the camera and GPS time.

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Diving tracklog around the Shipwreck "Folias" in Puerto Madryn.

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In The Field

EXPLORING DEEP BOTTOMS AT CAMARONES BAY - Part 3
The deepest dive (56 m) for the OPENROV v2.8 in Camarones Bay. During this dive we were able to measure some Cosmasterias lurida sea stars and Pseudechinus magellanicus sea urchins with the laser system of the ROV. Check our ROV control room onboard of one zodiac.

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I am very interested in finding out more info about the laser system for measuring size of what you see. Can you point me to some resource on the topic please?
Hi Petr, in this case we use the lasers that are included in the OPENROV v2.8 and here you can see how we calibrated them : https://openrov.dozuki.com/Guide/Guide+5+-+Finishing/121?lang=en#s2105We plan to add some external lasers to the TRIDENT but we didn't find any low cost version yet. There is an open discussion about this topic here: https://forum.openrov.com/t/trident-modifications-lasers-for-size/6450 It would be great to keep in touch, in case any solution appears. This is my email:gonzalobravoargentina@gmail.com
Thanks Gonzalo. I will check it out for sure and send you my contacts, too.

EXPLORING DEEP BOTTOMS AT CAMARONES BAY - Part 2
Second dive with the OpenROV v2.8 reaching 48 m deep. Even if Camarones Bay is a famous place for recreational fishing we didn't cross to much fish during deployments. In this video we can see a Pseudopercis semifasciata passing on the back at the beginning and then a Cheilodactylus bergi.

Muy bueno chicos! Una pregunta....le anexaron al ROV un láser para hacer mediciones para calculos de tamaño o densidades? Donde lo consiguieron? Muchas gracias, Cristian
Hola Cristian, el modelo viejo de OPENROV viene con lasers y estan calibrados a 10 cm, el TRIDENT lamentablemente no trae. Pero vienen unos lasers en formato linterna que se podrían adherir a la carcasa del TRIDENT.

EXPLORING DEEP BOTTOMS AT CAMARONES BAY - Part 1
During the field trip to Camarones Bay we deployed the OpenROV v2.8 with the Pro Camera-HD in differents sites. In this attempt we reach 35 m depth and we found mostly sponges , octocorals and polychaetes tubes.

This was the equipment we used during a 4 day expedition to Camarones Bay. The plan was to get videos and photos using autonomous diving, drift cameras, BRUVs and ROV dives. We will post some results soon!

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We deployed the TRIDENT ROV to look for snails on a sandy bottom
By adding a 1 kg weight on the cable, we were able to drag the ROV with the boat and search for Buccinanops deformis, a small snail that is found over and buried in the sediment. ROV deployment worked very well and this maneuver in a near future will be very useful to perform underwater transects on rocky reefs.

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Hello Gonzalo. This footage is amazing. I can see that just as many others report and I learnt from my first Trident dive, the ROV is too buoyant in shallow water. The trick with weight you employed seem to work great! I cannot see any furrow caused by the weight in the sand, so I assume it is not touching the bottom. Can you tell me more about how it is attached and how you make sure it is in the position you require? Thank you!
Hi Petr, I used a 1 kg diving weight and I passed the cable through the hole and make a loop. For this case I put the weight 40 cm away from TRIDENT. So when you drag, the weight remains on top of the TRIDENT. In some cases with strong currents I put the weight 10 m from the ROV so you have the cable going straight down to the bottom and them you have a circle of 10 m to dive around. I will try to take a photo next time and post it here.
Thanks Gonzalo ... so you just attached the weight to the tether by making a loop? That's it? It wasn't on a separate line, correct?

Here's a footage of TRIDENT diving in Patagonia Argentina.

Using a GPS in a buoy with a line connected to the diver we can track our dives and geo-reference the underwater photo-quadrats. Here is one of the longest dives we did in Santa Cruz province.


  • Total length: 1.1 km
  • Average speed: 19 cm/sec
  • Bottom Time: 1.36 hs
  • Max depth: 9 m
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We spend 3 days in Comodoro Rivadavia and the weather was great for diving. We explore rocky reefs by scuba diving and with Trident OpenROV. We are very satisfied with the results and during this short field trips we are improving our sampling protocol. Yann Herrera Fuchs, the current North American Rolex scholar (https://owussnorthamerica.org/)) was helping us in the sampling process and Bitacora Buceo dive center provided logistics.

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Excelente chicos! Que buena campaña! Sigan subiendo fotos que desde aca (Córdoba) les hacemos el aguante y esperamos saber mas de ustedes y los buceos! A ver si se copan y suben algunas fotos de ascidias Exitos, gran abrazo Cristian y todo el equipo de Bentos Córdoba
Preparation

We are really proud to be part of the SEE initiative. Thanks to OpenRov and NatGeo for the new TRIDENT. We did our first dive and we are motivated to go for more!

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Trying snoot photography at Península Valdes Natural Protected Area
A snoot is a simply cone-shaped tube or device that is used to form a narrow beam of light. This is a useful technique for highlighting the details of marine invertebrates or fishes. Right photo Helcogrammoides cunninghami, left photo an ascidian colony of the genus Aplidum.

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In The Field

Beagle Channel


We did a short trip to Ushuaia, where we dived to search for rocky reefs. Unfortunately, we didn't find the type of reef we were looking for, however, dives at the kelps forest were great. Species in photos: Top left (Margarella violacea) Top right (Pagurus comptus) Bottom left (Odontaster penicillatus) Bottom right (Haliclystus antarcticus on Macrocystis pyrifera)

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It looks like you have an amazing coastline to explore and survey. Kelp forests are incredible, diverse and productive places and we look forward to exploring more of ours in the UK this year.

Preparation

The Atlantic Patagonian coast, between 40° to 60° S, is sparsely populated and considered as one of the most pristine temperate coastlines in the world. It straddles two biogeographic provinces, with both warm temperate and cold temperate species present. Rocky shorelines and gravel beaches are predominant, while sandy beaches are less common. The presence of semienclosed gulfs across the coast (San Matías, San José, Nuevo and San Jorge Gulfs) offers sheltered shores that support biodiverse ecosystems.
In this map we can see some of the sampling sites we want to visit during the expedition.

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Interesting! I am about to start a similar expedition in Cameroon. Thank you for sharing your experience. Looking forward to hearing more from your exploration!

Thanks for your words, Aristide Takoukam. Great to hear about your expedition. Let's keep in contact, sharing advances.

Underwater photo-quadrats are looking good.
We are working on the sampling protocol for benthic communities and using 25 x 25 cm photo quadrats we are getting a nice resolution.

The photos will be available after the analysis on: https://coralnet.ucsd.edu/source/1054/

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Interesting project! I loved backpacking in Patagonia and the Valdes Peninsula is still one of my favourite spots in the world to enjoy nature! After looking at your project, I feel a bit sad that I haven't done any diving while being there! Please continue with this project and share more pictures of this exciting area!

Hi, @Christian Drerup you always have time to come back. You are welcome to come diving with us !

Temperature data loggers were installed at differents rocky reefs. These low cost water temperature data loggers (iButton® cover with silicone inside a PVC cover) were attached into the reef substrate at 5 meter depth , collecting temperature data every 60 minutes.

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“Documentation Techniques for Scientific divers 2018”


I had the chance to participate in an international PhD-course at the Sven Loven Centre For Marine Science - Kristineberg, Sweden. During this course I learned new underwater sampling techniques that will help us during the sampling expeditions Patagonia.

Seminars:

  • The use of SCUBA in seagrass ecology (Eduardo Infantes)
  • Equipment and basics in photography, Macro,Fish and Wide-angle(Anders Salesjö)
  • Photo editing in Light room and Photoshop (Anders Salesjö)
  • Photoshop and coloration in Fish (Helén Sköld)
  • Stacking technology for building up pictures (Matz Berggren)
  • Stereo-video systems (Linus Hammar)
  • Scientific outreach filming (Leon Green)
  • 3D photogrammetry (Eduardo Infantes)
  • Use of mapping techniques in Marine Science (Martin Gullström)
  • Drones for use in science (Eduardo Infantes)
  • Use of underwater tablets, underwater GPS positioning and Allure software (Jouni Leiniki)
  • AUV and applications (Fredrik Gröndahl).
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Some typical rocky reefs from the north east coast of "Nuevo Gulf"


Subtidal rocky reefs are formed by rocky outcrops that remain permanently submerged and provide heterogeneous substrate for marine life to attach to. These habitats are productive areas that support large communities of invertebrates, algae and fish.

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Deepest Dive Until now!
We went to deploy our OPEN ROV close to a rocky reef and we find a lot of life in the surrounding soft bottoms. Max. depth 33 meters !

Buceo a 30 metros con OPENROV

Mirá todo lo que se observa sobre un fondo blando a 33 metros de profundidad en el Golfo Nuevo cerca de la ciudad de Puerto Madryn. Este fue nuestro primer buceo profundo con el OPENROV en las cercanías de un arrecife rocoso el 18-04-18. #openrov

Posted by ProyectoSub on Saturday, June 2, 2018

First dive in the sea for our OpenROV v2.8. We were able to record a school of Scomber colias. Sea temperature was 18 °C and max depth was 5 m.

Very cool! Do you know Vreni by any chance?

Hi David, sorry for the delay. I don't know Vreni Personally but I love her book !

Our OpenROV v2.8 with the Pro Camera-HD Upgrade

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Expedition Background

In this expedition we will carry out one of the largest diving surveys in Argentina using innovative methods as time-lapse photography, OpenROV dives, drop-video and underwater mapping. Our main goal is to explore rocky reefs located between 10 to 50 m deep and survey benthic communities. Underwater photo-quadrats along transects will be used to estimate species richness, abundance and species composition. This methodology allows us to get a wide sampling area and cover many rocky reefs along the coast using short dive surveys. OpenROV dives will be used mostly for discovering new places and diving in deep reefs. We will prepare logistic and sampling protocols using the equipment near home (Puerto Madryn) before going to remote places.


Outreach program "PROYECTOSUB"

Together with the scientific results we are going to collect photos and videos that will be used to highlight the beauty and importance of marine invertebrates. https://www.facebook.com/proyectosub/

We also hope to find funding to develop a program called: Dive into our ocean, discovering the underwater world of your own city. Where Kids from local schools of Puerto Madryn will have a unique opportunity to participate in citizen science surveys observing on live aquatic life using OPENROV and obtaining their own research results. This is a perfect chance to outreach about marine organisms and teach why they are important for the ocean. In addition, we intend to inspire young kids to get involved in marine sciences.

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