Patagonia Underwater ExplorationLatest update September 12, 2020 Started on June 8, 2018
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
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.
Underwater TimeLapse - Sea Star Feeding
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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)
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.
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/
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.
“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.
- 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).
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.
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. #openrovPosted by ProyectoSub on Saturday, June 2, 2018
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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